Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
I mask my lack of patience by labeling it “pleasantly persistent”. It might sound cute, but let’s face it, no one wants to be pushed around. For instance, think of salespeople who aren’t self-aware tend to make poor decisions to push deals through for a short-term gain, forgetting about the bigger goal of solving customers’ problems.
While every top performer should have a healthy sense of urgency, patience is truly a virtue.
Personally, the self-awareness to know when I am not patient has saved me a few times.
For instance, I had just gotten off the phone with my boss who had no problem transferring all of his stress to me. I was being pressured to deliver the big deal I was working on by the end of the month to hit our team numbers. I was already behind linearity and had enough pressure on myself.
Then, I walk into my customer meeting where I interpret that the CIO is waffling on timelines and commitment to the deal.
The adrenaline combined with cortisol was like lighter fluid being added to a fire.
According to Daniel Siegel, author of Mindsight, “when we become survival-driven, we lose any or all of the nine middle prefrontal functions”, a part of the brain associated with body regulation, emotional balance, and insight.
In “survival mode” we find ourselves stressed, negative, desperate and aggressive. Not exactly the adjectives customers would use to describe their ideal account manager or trusted advisor.
I found myself starting to ask a ton of questions without waiting to really listen to the answers. All I could think about was the pressure my boss had put on me to get the deal closed ASAP.
Then, something snapped.
I became aware of my lack of patience.
I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room. In the stall, I took a few breaths, gained my composure and remembered that the goal was to help my client reduce turnover and recruit top talent by providing technology that allowed for more remote working.
My goal wasn’t for me to pull in this deal, that was a byproduct.
I also realized that I hadn’t been present. I was focusing on what had happened on the call with my boss and thinking about what could happen if I didn’t bring in the deal.
I was irrational and negative. (Thank you, survival instincts.)
That negative filter actually had me misunderstand the real situation.
I had missed that my customer was merely asking questions about deliverables and timelines because he needed to provide this information to his leadership. He was under the same, if not greater, pressure that I was to have this rolled out successfully. After taking that mini break, we got questions answered and created a reverse timeline to determine exactly what steps needed to happen when and by who.
The deal closed on time and drama-free.
Better yet, the customer achieved their goals.
... And I was invited to consult on many more projects over the years.
Patience is truly a virtue, especially in high stakes environments. Use self-awareness to know the difference between patience and pushing unnaturally.