When pursuing happiness, whether it’s right at the start of your journey, or near the end, patience is tricky attitude to maintain. Too little patience and we miss important steps along the way, or mess up completely because we’ve gone too far too quickly. Too much patience however and we slide into procrastination, not actively doing enough to move our dreams forward.
This week, I asked the Lab-Rats to read the blog entry An Expensive Lesson from when I first arrived in France in August 2006 then answer some questions about their own experience with “leaping before looking.”
Before I get into the answers, though, here’s a bit about the answering styles. The Urbane Lion’s first language isn’t English, so he clarified what terms he was using before continuing (“I think we need to make the distinction here between patient and analytical.”) then provided me with the questions and his answers in a PDF document with the answers a different colour from the questions. Sal went the opposite route and ignored structure altogether; telling me a story instead. Brett kept it simple, giving me just his answers numbered to match the questions, and Crista (who started a new blog this week) gave me a combination of all three. No matter the style, however, they all provided me with lots of information to digest.
Tomorrow I’ll post the full text of everyone’s responses so you can see for yourself.
Now, on to the analysis…
Leaper or Looker?
The men considered themselves lookers, while Crista identified herself as a leaper. The Urbane Lion‘s interpretation of patience related more to his response to others and to his desire for gratification. In that sense he says he’s not patient, expecting intelligent interactions with people and pleasure when he wants it. Literally, however, he looks before he leaps off the boat (to make sure the water is deep enough) and is very analytical about big decisions. Sal acknowledged that when he does try to be spontaneous he misses out on important details so prefers to move slowly. Brett felt that he was likely too patient, letting irritations stew inside and situations to worsen.
Crista has moderated her tendency to leap without looking because like the other male lab rats, her husband is also a Looker. She tries to honour his need for security, while doing the best she can for her kids (which requires planning). As a result, Crista can feel a bit hemmed in and annoyed that she has created for herself a Someday List.
Too Patient? Too Brash?
Given the above, it’s not surprising, therefore, that all of my Lab-Rats talked about their over-patience, their unwillingness to act even when the lack of action creates irritation, a sense of loss, or frustration. By not acting, the Lab-Rats either created a Someday or lost a moment of connection with their dreams (or desire in the moment).
Crista put her dreams of school on hold to raise her family, always saying “someday” to it (fortunately that’s changed and she’s going back to school).
Sal lost the opportunity to buy a great house because he hesitated too long (but they found another one they like).
Brett ended up in a deadline crunch at work because he didn’t speak up, requesting what he needed from a higher up (he’s working on leaving the job).
The Urbane Lion’s example included a frustrating and embarrassing lack of service at a restaurant with his in-laws. Given the restaurant’s out of the way location and time restriction, getting up and going elsewhere wasn’t an option, so his only possible action was confronting the bad service as it was happening. The Urbane Lion told me that it got so frustrating he finally knelt down and banged his head on the floor. I’ll leave it up to him to let us know whether he spoke up during the process or let it all build until the head-banging moment.
Crista’s making the biggest change to find balance – she’s away for three weeks at the beginning of the school year to kick start her distance education degree. After putting school off for the sake of her family for so long, she’s missing her son’s first day at kindergarten and her daughter’s birthday.
During the exercise, Brett realized that speaking up when he needs something or when someone says something obviously wrong in a meeting will most likely make his work life better, not worse. Sal is going to take Tina Su’s advice and take small steps on projects – moving things forward, but not diving in.
The Urbane Lion for the most part has found balance. He knows who he is and that he needs to temper his hot-bloodedness sometimes. I say “for the most part” because given the restaurant story he relayed (you’ll get to read it yourself tomorrow), I wonder whether he waits until a breaking point before speaking up (I’ll let you decide when he clarifies).
- Inaction is a choice and there will be consequences – likely ones you didn’t consider when weighing the possibilities.
- When acting against our natures, it’s easy to swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.