“A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains.”Dutch Proverb
A few years ago for Father’s Day, my wife bought me one of those huge, chrome barbecues. It did not come pre-assembled, but that didn’t appear to be an issue – I had always considered myself to be mechanically inclined. “How difficult could it be?” I thought.
With visions of sizzling burgers in our heads, my teenage son and I began to rip open boxes containing the individual components. The first thing we did was dump all the parts out and spread them across the floor of our deck. Some of the smaller pieces came in plastic bags, which we promptly opened and added the contents to the growing assortment.
“There sure are a lot of pieces,” observed my son.
“Yeah,” I concurred. “Let’s see if we can make some sense of it all.”
Using the picture on the box of the completed barbecue as a reference, we began assembling the new grill. It took only a short time to realize that we were in trouble. Undaunted, we forged ahead until both our tempers and knuckles had been worn ragged.
“Dad, this stupid thing doesn’t look anything like the picture!”
Finally, out of exasperation, I searched the empty boxes for the instructions. When we finally sat down to read them, I realized we had gotten entirely out of sequence. We were trying to complete Step 4 before performing Step 2, let alone Step 3. As a result, we had to do some serious deconstruction before we could begin the reconstruction process.
We had become so focused on the result (the burgers that would ultimately sizzle on the grill) we rushed through the process of assembling the barbecue. What could have been an enjoyable couple hours spent between father and son – building something with our own hands – turned into a painful exercise for both of us. The success of each step depended upon how well we performed the one before it. Had we exercised a little patience, we would have been more efficient in achieving the burgers we were so focused on. Speeding through the steps actually created errors, frustration and ultimately hindered reaching our goal.
Let’s view this grilling issue from a slightly different angle. Instead of thinking just about the burgers (the goal), what if we had thought about the process as an experience in itself, not just a means to an end? By doing so, we could have relished the building of the barbecue, not just relish the burgers we would enjoy later. Had we done that, we probably would have had a more successful building experience and reached our goal sooner, which is beneficial too, but more importantly, we would have enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that came with seeing the barbecue take shape and slowly become what we saw on the box.
So, if we slow down and take our time, does that mean we’re going to enjoy each step along the path to our goals? Unlikely, as some steps are pleasurable while others are not so much. Rather, if we look at each step as a stepping stone leading to the achievement of our goal, we’re more likely to spend the time necessary to do it right. As with building the barbecue, life is always more enjoyable when we look for joy in more than the end goal but the process as well.
Canadian singer and songwriter, Bryan Adams once wrote, “Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”
Whatever the goal, from building a business to building our self-esteem, if we exercise patience along with perseverance, we’re more likely to remain fully engaged in the experience and realize our goals in a more harmonious and successful manner.