There is such a thing as strategic patience…
I have a confession to make:
I’m impatient. It’s a fundamental trait that I have wrestled with for years. I’d love to think that I’m not alone and that it’s okay because other people are impatient, too, but the reality is that impatience is not okay.
Urgency is okay in most circumstances, but impatience? Not really.
This reality has smacked me in the face HARD lately due to an adventure I’ve been on for the past 7 weeks. A minor fall down some stairs left me with a torn quadriceps tendon. It turns out that this type of injury is one that, while painful at its onset, is really a test of patience. Following surgery a number of weeks ago I have been set aside, wings clipped and wheels idled, because I have not been able to bend my right leg.
Because this particular injury–a grafting of a very large tendon and muscle group back to the bony real estate of my kneecap–has to heal before I get to start rehabilitation. Waiting is actually the right thing to do. It’s excruciating.
And that, like many parts of life, brings to me a question: While most of us want results and we want them now, is it often healthier to be patient? Is patience a strategic weapon?
Yes! Of course it is! But we forget this so often.
I’ve witnessed executives wreck M&A negotiations by being impatient. I’ve witnessed sales efforts scrapped by impatience. I’ve witnessed promising innovations cast aside by–yep, you guessed it–impatient executives. I’ve seen extremely valuable assets given away for a pittance by executives with a tyrannical urgency to do…something.
But, how do you know when waiting is actually the strategically correct position?
Usually, it’s the correct position when you know that things will sort. In other words, if you have the luxury of time to wait to gain additional insight or maturity, then waiting is a strategic option that should be considered. In most of the generic examples in my prior paragraph you see examples where the fear of missing out interjects to drive really bad decision making.
When in doubt, assess whether you have the ability to exercise a real option to wait. It’s not always the right option, but it is one that should be on the table.
Sometimes, the time to be aggressive is after you’ve let things settle.
What do you think?