Is Patience Your Most Underdeveloped Career Skill?
We live in a culture of wanting it all and wanting it all now. Getting ahead in our careers is often paramount in our minds, and an accelerated schedule for achievement is a preoccupation to which many of us fall prey. Yet somewhere inside, we know that the best things in life happen at a slower and more natural pace — like watching with patience and anticipation as the seasons change. But what does patience have to do with our careers? Exerting patience seems counterintuitive to workplace culture while our businesses are experiencing an unprecedented pace of change and the constant pressure to quickly innovate and grow.
But having the patience to wait for the things that are right for us, trust in the process and strategically and methodically work towards fulfillment in our careers is often the better strategy to realizing compatible professional experiences. Patience gives us a measure of restraint so that we can sustain ourselves and live in a state of hopeful anticipation, while at the same time believing that we’ll attract the opportunities we’re meant to have and that our fullest life experiences are worth waiting for.
The people who learn to trust in a career process they cannot predict, and who can wait for the right opportunities, are the ones that realize their ultimate goals. Are you one of those people? Are you patient? Here are a few questions to consider:
What has been your pattern of advancement?
When you look back, do you regret any of your job moves? None of us have a time machine and we can’t go back to relive our early career decisions, but if you could, would you change anything? Is there a pattern of impatience that has cost you financially, emotionally, or harmed any of your professional relationships?
Do you enjoy the daily work of your current job?
There’s a problem if the answer is no. It’s impossible to harness the power of patience if you don’t enjoy the tasks you’re doing day to day. You probably need to make a change in your work life. But be thoughtful and move slowly, as you’re at a greater risk of jumping at the first opportunity that comes your way.
Is there something interesting that you’re learning right now?
If the answer is yes, you are well positioned to be patient. Learning something meaningful to you increases your capacity to sit back and let the best opportunities incubate and develop.
Is financial success your #1 priority?
If the answer is yes, you’re not in a season of life where you’ll be able to be patient. Try your best to avoid knee-jerk reactions in the pursuit of short-term financial gains. Over the course of a career, opportunities will present themselves in which the job that’s the less lucrative may lead to better returns in the long run. Keep this in mind as best you can.
Are you preoccupied with your next promotion?
If yes, ask yourself why and consider the implications. There are valid reasons to be preoccupied with a promotion, such as having a belief that you can and will make a more substantial difference. But beware of signs that your ego is leading you to a place of frustration and dissatisfaction when cultivating patience would offer the better life experience.
Do you sell yourself on opportunities?
Are you one of those people who, when contacted by a recruiter, will sell yourself on the job before the recruiter has a chance to do so? Do you convince yourself that the next, new or shiniest position is the best one? If so, run all your potential opportunities by an unbiased and candid group of mentors. They will likely encourage you to exercise patience.
When we infuse our lives with patience, we are free to do our highest work with unshakable peace and trust that our life’s journey will unfold appropriately.
This guest post was authored by Kourtney Whitehead
Kourtney has focused her career on helping people reach their work goals, from executive searches to counseling to career transitions, through her positions at top executive recruiting firms and consulting companies. She an online community focused on supporting the creation of spiritually centered work lives. She is a sought-after speaker and podcast guest. Her new book, Working Whole, shares how to unite spiritual and work life. Learn more at SimplyService.org.