Where Is Your Impatience Placed?

Here’s a test.

Write down the things that made you impatient during the past few weeks. What does your list contain? It may include:

  • Waiting in a checkout line
  • Waiting in traffic
  • Getting stuck behind a slow driver
  • Getting stuck in a project that doesn’t fit our career objectives

Impatience is usually combined with waiting or getting stuck. We don’t like it when things move slower than expected.

Now, think about the elements you were patient about. It may include career goals, life plans, or leadership aims.

It is an odd thing.

We can get extremely impatient when we cannot move a few miles down the road while we may wait a lifetime to achieve our purpose-filled goals. At times, our impatience and patience get misplaced. When we look at it in a simple two by two matrix, we gain some clarity.

Patience / Impatience Matrix

Dividing our patience and impatience between unimportant and important life and leadership activities delivers a better view for us to absorb. Let’s evaluate each quadrant.

  • Routine – There are unimportant activities we need to do. In terms of life direction, they are the functional things we do, and we do them with a patient everyday mindset.
  • Release – These are the frustration points that unexpectedly land in our path. We need to take a more mindful approach to resolve them, breathing in and letting the impatience flow from our thoughts and actions. We cannot let them trip us up and get us off track.
  • Pace – For some of our important activities, we get riled up. We need to remember to put one foot in front of another. It is about movement, not just motion. It is about consistency of work and effort to achieve our goals and purpose. Scurrying around tires us out; consistent action delivers better results.
  • Stride – Life is a balance. We cannot become too patient in achieving our life purpose, as life may just pass us by. For the important things in our life, we need to gain and maintain our stride.

Routine and release keep us balanced.

Routine solves little activities and issues.

Release moves us beyond what doesn’t matter.

Stride and pace go hand-in-hand.

Pace keeps us centered.

Stride keeps us moving forward.

We need to use our pace to keep our impatience in check. We also need to use our stride to keep our patience in check.

How do you keep your patience and impatience focused on the right things? Add your insights and thoughts below in the comments section.

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and is a leadership populist, writing to empower Millennial leaders. When we share experiences rather than focus on differences, we realize a thin difference between two generations and a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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  • Alice Chan, Ph.D.

    Another thought-provoking post, Jon! I’m particularly drawn to the “important” half of the matrix, because, well…it’s important! Finding that balance between stride and pace is again about discernment, isn’t it? Us Type A’s deficient in the patience gene especially need to remember to breathe and keep in check our propensity to jump into (re-)action. Personality influences aside, we all need to be mindful of fear-based inertia disguised as patience. The intro part of the “Act” chapter in my book talks specifically about knowing why we want to act or not act. In acting, are we running away from something instead of toward something, which will produce different outcomes? Are we not taking action because we’re afraid to step outside our comfort zone, or are we genuinely not in the position to act? In short, being mindful and honest with ourselves is a key to riding that balance between stride and pace you described.

    • Jon M

      Wonderful additions to the conversation, Alice! The acting / not acting mix is an interesting one, and your points fit into the stride / pace part of the matrix. Being mindful of what we are doing or not doing and why is vital. Thanks for your insights! Jon

  • Skip Prichard

    Really like this post and your matrix. From someone who is always working on patience, this is something to try.

    • Jon M

      Thanks, Skip. Really appreciate that feedback! Jon

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  • Lifeishot

    Jon, I need to draw your matrix on my bathroom mirror. This is excellent perspective on what’s important and what is not and how we should react to them.

    • Jon M

      Great idea, D’Anne! Each day, it can serve as a reminder if we have the right stride and pace to what we plan to do. Thanks! Jon

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  • Chrysta Bairre

    Great insights into patience and impatience, Jon!

    When I find myself feeling impatient stuck in traffic, for example, I consciously practice adjusting my perspective and enjoying the moment. Sometimes a traffic jam is a great opportunity to take several calming, deep breaths. Sometimes it’s an opportunity to sing along to a favorite song.

    I find I am far more likely to feel impatient when it comes to the big life stuff. Once I have identified my goal I want results! I am learning to practice patience and learning to enjoy the journey.

    Have a grateful day!


    • Jon M

      A great practice, Chrysta! It is a mindful approach, which is a great way to go. My plan is to embrace mindful practices more and more in the year ahead.

      Thank you for your insights, and I am grateful for our conversations during the past year. Thank you! Jon

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