Patience is a Virtue – Full Text Answers

As promised yesterday, here are the complete answers by the Lab-Rats for this week’s exercise. I’ve not done any formatting changes, so that you can see the style of answering as well as the answers themselves (after all, to be cliché, the medium is the message).

The Exercise

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.

Read the blog entry An Expensive Lesson from when I first arrived in France in August 2006 then answer the following questions.

  1. Do you consider yourself a patient person or someone who dives in without looking?
  2. Do you have a recent example of when you weren’t very patient? How about being too patient (i.e., too passive)?
  3. Given your personality, what would you say is a good way to find balance between patience and action as you move forward on realizing your dreams?

Brett’s Response

Just to follow up with you and answer your questions, here is what I have to say.

1. I consider myself to be a very patient person, in general – but with people more so than inanimate objects.  I can generally tolerate a great deal and exercise almost infinite patience with other people and people-related situations.  But my patience starts to wane with machines, technology, and so forth.  (This might be bad because as someone who is generally impatient with technology, I might focus on fixing a computer, for instance, rather than working on something much more important.)

2. I was recently working on a very important document at my day job and was not receiving feedback from my supervisor, who was to give primary review prior to sending it out to other reviewers.  I waited too long to press the issue and we had to work very hard to get the document reviewed and completed on time.

3. Hmm – based one what I’ve said above, I think I need to worry less about the inanimate and speak my mind more often with those in my life – my coworkers, for example.

You know, this is a really interesting train of thought.  I have come to believe that the patience I exercise (and have exercised) with others has not always served me well in my professional career, as I may not speak up.  I tend to let things go, for instance, if someone says something that is dead wrong in a meeting, I’ll often just let it go.  Now perhaps if I spoke up and said something, firstly it would make certain that the error was corrected, and secondly I would be seen as someone who is interested and informed.  Also, if I’m
exercising patience while waiting for a response from someone, it might transform into procrastination.  I do procrastinate more than I should.

Sal’s Response

I am officially giving this a go. I wrote it down on Tuesday, read it over on Wednesday, and am sending it to you now as a final draft.

I would have to say I am a little of both, more of the patient, but every once in a while I will jump into something without thinking. One of the times I jumped in was a vacation to Cancun. It was a Thursday afternoon with a federal holiday that next Monday (everything was going to be closed) and my wife and I wanted to do something fun over the weekend. I told her to give me 30 minutes, called her back and told her that we were going to book a weekend getaway to Mexico. I found a great price for an all inclusive resort on Isla de Mujeres – a 5 star resort. What I didn’t consider was the cost of activities once we got there, the cost of getting a taxi and a boat ride to and from the airport, etc. All in all the whole thing set us back more than expected. So I learned another lesson and became more passive after I was trying to reach out and be spontaneous.

Most times I am Melancholy and I like to research everything in depth before I even think about taking a single step. I need to know exactly what to expect, how long it is going to take, how much it is going to cost, what is going to happen and basically have everything nailed down. Even then I am passive about making the decision. I am also Phlegmatic – one who is laid back and not pressed for anything; a graduate, suma cum lade, of patience.

An example of being passive would be the time we were first looking at houses. We found a great house, yea it needed a little work, but it was in our price range. By the time I was done trying to convince myself that it was the perfect place there was already a contract on the house. We ended up paying more for a place that wasn’t as big or as nice.

I would say the best way for me to find balance would be to start with small steps (reference your interview with Tina). I said that I am a Melancholy and Phlegmatic, well, usually when my wife asks me what I want for dinner I usually respond with a passive “I dunno…what do you want?” I could start by actually making a decision for dinner instead of making a decision of inactivity. As I move forward I would like to learn how to identify the types of decision that I should spend more time on and for everything else, make a decision, be confident in it and stick to my guns.

The Urbane Lion’s Response

1. Do you consider yourself a patient person or someone who dives in without looking? I think we need to make the distinction here between patient and analytical. I am the impatient type. I don’t like waiting and demand instant results and gratification. However, I thoroughly research any decisions that may have a strong impact on my life. If I make a major purchase, let’s say a car ;-), I will look up all reviews, recalls etc, project costs such as insurance and maintenance and only then will I make my decision. Before I dive off the boat, I always double check to see if it’s deep enough and that there are no hidden obstacles I could hit. Caution always prevails.

2. Do you have a recent example of when you weren’t very patient? How about being too patient (i.e., too passive)? I have very little patience when it comes down to incompetence. Last May I held a B’day party for the Panther. Her parents and Sibling Rob stayed overnight as they live about 5 hours away. I wanted to treat them to breakfast followed by a short cruise on the boat before they headed back home. As the marina has a restaurant, it only made perfect sense to have breakfast there. The service was horrible! Took over 20 minutes before we were even acknowledged. Our plates took even longer to arrive and they had no milk for my mother in law! As the server had only two hands, that meant she could only carry 2 plates at a time. Coffee refills were done using ceramic cream servers. Very cute but not very efficient as they only hold about 500 ml each. Finally after at least two hours of pain and suffering, I ask for the bill. I rarely carry cash and pay everything using my credit card. Turns out they only accepted cash. I had to sheepishly borrow money from my Father in law! I just dropped to the floor in front of our server and proceeded to bang my head on the floor! It was just too much for me to handle.

3. Given your personality, what would you say is a good way to find balance between patience and action as you move forward on realizing your dreams? I have come to know who I am, change the facets of my life that I had control over and accept what cannot be changed. I am a fun loving but hot-blooded person and that cannot be changed. I focus on my goal but allow some time for pleasure and relaxation to make sure that I arrive alive and in good enough shape to enjoy the fruits of my labor..

Crista’s Response

1.      Do you consider yourself a patient person or someone who dives in without looking?
There’s no question I am a bit of a diver. I decide and then I do. Anything planned, specific or within guidelines can feel a bit restrained to me. As an impulsive, I sometimes fail to ask the internal questions that may prevent grief further down the road. The upside? I’m positive, energetic, creative and fun. Ultimately, I’m at my best when I’m free to follow my passions and do the meaningful things that contribute to others. In the “Enneagram”, ( to take your own assessment and learn more) one of the best personality type indicators I know of, I am considered an “Adventurer”. So, how do I get to this place where I have a “Someday” list?

With a little thought, this week’s question caused me considerable discomfort. As an adventurer, I should be the one personality type that doesn’t have a Someday List, shouldn’t I? For the record, I’d like to travel around the world with my family for a year, live on a lake and develop an awareness campaign that provides pregnant women with the information they need to know if their full-term pregnancy may be in danger. (The stillbirth of my first son is a personal experience I will get into in future postings.)

This week, I realized why I haven’t pursued these things. It’s because I tend to filter my decisions through the impact they have on others. For example, my husband isn’t big on change. In fact, he happens to be my perfect opposite. (A balanced duo indeed.) So, instead of pursuing the trip around the world, I try and remain content. Inside, I’m bursting to travel and show my kids an international perspective on what’s important. But quietly, I calm myself with, “Someday, when the timing is right…” Is this thoughtful patience? Or am I bowing to my family needs and creating excuses for not realizing that my someday, is now?
2.      Do you have a recent example of when you weren’t very patient? How about being too patient (i.e., too passive)?
I usually know my “someday has arrived” when I act quickly and results flow with ease and simplicity. Patience is an indication of indecision or procrastination. Returning to school at 40 is an example. When I was younger, I began a degree in Public Relations. After completing two years in the program, I decided to transfer universities and take a business degree instead. I went to three different schools hoping they would transfer my credits. None of them would so I took a college program in Corporate Communications. I thought I would eventually complete my degree (someday). Well, I got married. We bought a house. We had kids. There was always a reason not to return: I need to save for my kids’ education – not my own. It takes too much time – I need to work to make ends meet… The excuses go on.

At the end of 2007 I was feeling restless with a need to do something that “filled me up”. It took exactly 20 minutes to make the decision to return to school. I looked online and came across Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. It combined a three-week on-campus stint, with online courses. With a college diploma, I get a degree inside two years. Initially I requested more information on their “Entrepreneurial Management” course but they sent me details on their “Justice Studies” program. Reading through the curriculum, I realized this would meet my long-hidden desire to pursuit law. From the moment I decided this is what my next “life step” would be, flow followed. Everything easily fell into place – with the exception of the starting date. I almost deferred my decision because I would I miss my son’s first day of kindergarten, and my daughter’s eighth birthday. (She reminds me daily!) Two great reasons to continue putting my degree and interest in law on “someday hold”.  In retrospect, a decision I filtered through the eyes of what I thought I should do as a mother. (I tend to get “should on” a lot!)

Finding Balance:
In an effort to make better decisions, especially when they affect my family, I act with patience. In the process though, I have accumulated this Someday List. It’s easy for a mother to act in the interests of her children (and partner) and not advocate on her own behalf. I am passionate about this journey because I don’t think I am the only woman to talk in someday tense – I have friends who are just like me. So, I will evaluate my Someday List with the same criteria that led me back to school. When making my decisions, I will continue to consider how my decisions affect my family, but I won’t allow them to become an excuse to keep dreaming. And I will consider how the decision affects me. Do I feel depleted by saying no, or energized by action?

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17 thoughts on “Patience is a Virtue – Full Text Answers

  1. Cath Lawson says:

    Hi Brett – it seems to me that you’re too patient with your co-workers, but it often leaves you feeling very frustrated. Hopefully this someday journey is really going to help you out.

    Hi Sal – You sound lots like my husband when it comes to making decisions.

    Hi Urbane Lion – Like you I get very impatient with bad service. I haven’t tried the banging my head on the floor before – but I did tell a restaurant manager that I thought he was a lazy bastard. The service was exceptionally bad (I don’t usually do things like that).

    Hi Crista – I think a lot of women get into these Someday situations through putting their husbands and children’s need’s first.

    Thanks Alex.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Business Networking: Are You Sticky?

  2. Alex Fayle says:

    The test was fun! I agree completely with it. I’m a mix of Type 2 (The Helper: and Type 5 (The Investigator: And I’m totally not an 8 (Challenger) for which I scored a zero.

    Thanks for chiming in. I agree that society traditionally says that the role of women is to support the goals of her family (“Behind every great man, there has to be a great woman.”).

  3. Brett Legree says:

    Hi Cath,

    Thanks – I know that it will, as just answering the questions, and chit-chatting back and forth with Alex offline, has been interesting.

    To be honest, I used to be a little more participative at work – and then eventually grew tired of screaming at the wall of ignorance, so I guess sometimes I just give up.

    I know what I should be doing here to reduce my frustrations… but I look forward to the day of not having to put up with them at all 🙂

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..never lose anything again. not even waldo.

  4. steph says:

    Wow! This is totally fascinating! I really enjoyed reading everyone’s answers. There’s so much to think about here, I can’t even comment. It would be all over the place.

    I have a couple tight deadlines to work on but after that I think I’m going to answer these questions myself. I love how you pulled things together with the last question and how people are realizing things about themselves they could either work on or that they like about themselves.

    There’s nowhere to go but up with this kind of thing. Thanks, Alex!

    steph’s last blog post..No Lamb For the Lazy Wolf

  5. Alex Fayle says:

    I’ve been enjoying the conversation as well. I look forward to more.

    Oh! You just made me choke up (yes, I tear up easily – I cry at Bell Telephone commercials). Good luck with the questions when you go through them!

  6. Alex,
    This is going so well…I love it!
    The one I could relate the most to was Crista-after 32 years of being a mother the habit of putting kids and family first is deeply engrained. ( in fact I talked about it in my last post- must be a wave-length going around) Although I jump in quickly with a lot of things, if it is something that would take time away from family, it pulls me up short every time and I have to go through this sorting out thing in my head.


    After the talks and posts you have shared I know how hard this is for you. But it will follow you where ever you go in the next job too. Might as well practice on these guys, you have little left to lose on the way out the door!

    Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations’s last blog post..Sandcastle Promises

  7. Sal says:

    You know, hitting the send button was probably the hardest thing that I had to do, but in follow Alex’s instructions, being a usual looker, I just leaped on this one. Although it did sit in my draft folder for about 3 days, every time I went back to change something I just stopped myself and herd a little voice “but Alex said not to!”

    FINE – Send. There it is done and there is no taking it back now. I am happy with how it came out to be completely honest.

    Sal’s last blog post..10 Business Strategies I Learned from Wal-Mart

  8. Alex Fayle says:

    The number of related blog posts I read really strengthen my belief in a collective subconscious. And I agree with you completely with your advice to Brett – it’s practice time!

    Good for you for trying something new and being good with the result. Woo hoo!

  9. Brett Legree says:

    @Wendi & Alex,

    Oh, I know what you mean, believe me – I know how to do it, and why. It’s a bit like pushing a rope here, though – so that’s why sometimes I give up!

    It might follow me to the next job, if I go to a traditional job – but only if the employees are insane, as they are here 🙂

    But seriously, thanks for the encouragement, and you’re right, good to practice.

  10. Rita says:


    I do not wish to make ANY comments on the responses of your “rats.” I just want to tell you how incredibly impressed I am with the way all 4 are being so relective, and taking the time to REALLY think about their answers.

    I am finding this totally riveting!


    Rita’s last blog post..My Father, the Anchor

  11. steph says:

    Alex: haha! I too used to cry at Bell commercials when we had TV. And I hate Bell!

    PS. I think this whole project is so great for so many reasons and in so many ways, I even told my husband about it. At the risk of making you shed another tear or two, I dare say that this is one of the most generous things a person could do: with wonderful and true intentions you’re selflessly offering guidance and encouragement and an opportunity for real growth — AND a perfect venue to do this in — to not only your lab rats but also us, the readers!

    I can totally see you making a go of this professionally one day (someday? haha), and by that I mean with not lab rats but clients!

    steph’s last blog post..No Lamb For the Lazy Wolf

  12. steph says:

    PS. I haven’t read all your France posts: how long did you live there? I was there for a year, in Paris, but long ago, 93-94. I am still dying to go back. Someday. [cringe!]

    steph’s last blog post..No Lamb For the Lazy Wolf

  13. I did this test and I am all over the map. I got equal high scores (6) on Types Achiever, Individualist, and Loyalist, and a 5 on Reformer. That makes me an Loyalist Individualist Achiever Reformer. What I am NOT is an Enthusiast Helper. Geepers, for such a tiny body, I’m hosting an awful lot of people. *chuckle*

    So to summarize:

    At my best: wise, discerning, realistic, and noble. Can be morally heroic. Self-accepting, authentic, everything they seem to be—role models who inspire others. Inspired and highly creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences. Internally stable and self-reliant,courageously championing themselves and others.
    Not my best: can slip into being critical and perfectionistic. Can also be overly concerned with their image and what others think of them. They typically have problems with workaholism and competitiveness. They can also feel disdainful and exempt from ordinary ways of living. They typically have problems with melancholy, self-indulgence, and self-pity. They typically have problems with self-doubt and suspicion.

    Holy crumpets! Can you tell I’m a Gemini?! Off to write a post on this!

    Urban Panther’s last blog post..He said he never…might…will get married

  14. Crista says:

    Greetings Urban Panther! My husband is a six so we are quite a pair. They do say opposites attract…

    I wrote my response and sat on it for a few days, only because Alex suggested that. I hit send and didn’t give it much thought until a couple of days later and then I started to have an internal freak out. Did I say too much? Should I have given it too much thought? Yup. I took a leap with the posting, too. I appreciate the feedback and the comments. Thank you for the opportunity Alex.

  15. Al at 7P says:

    Hi Alex – great series so far!

    I have not heard of the Enneagram Institute until Crista’s response, so I’m going to check that out for sure.

    Al at 7P’s last blog post..Why Should I Help You?

  16. […] 22, 2008 by Steph A couple of days ago, Alex of Someday Syndrome posted the answers to the self-improvement exercise he’d most recently assigned his lab rats Brett Legree, Sal, […]

  17. […] over on the Someday Syndrome, one of the lab rats made reference to a personality type indicator test. You can go check it out […]

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