The Role of Patience in Purpose

Boyhood, the movie directed and written by Richard Linklater, unfolded over 12 years. Although some movies take several years to produce, most seem to be done in less than a fourth of the time as Boyhood. This movie became Linklater’s “life project.” He wanted to capture childhood, but what moment to capture? Picking one moment to highlight in a movie would not really capture someone’s life between first grade and graduating from high school.

Other movies have taken on “coming of age.” Most have been done with clever makeup or different actors to fill in as time passed. Who would be patient enough to actually film a movie over 12 years?

Patience Equals Risk

patience in purposeThink of the risks, too. Something could happen to the selected actors. What about budgeting? The financing over 12 years could be challenging. Also, just think of the change that can happen during a 12 year period. Not only that, how do you keep focused on an initiative for 12 years? No wonder most movie directors would not take on such a project.

There are many risks in being patient. Herein is the problem.

As we look at our own initiatives, we get anxious. We try shortcuts or get started and never finish. There are no shortcuts to leading on purpose. And not finishing your purpose is a true waste of valuable time.

Patience really means taking time to do the work. Risk is present in patience yet a patient presence mitigates risk. Our focus needs to be on purpose first and then patiently doing the work to achieve our purpose.

Purpose Meets Time

Here is what Linklater said about the movie:

“Collaborating with something as fleeting as time and trying to capture how that’s represented in all of our lives was the essence of the whole film. We bet the farm on the power of that—the cumulative effect of all these intimate moments over time equals an emotion, or a feeling. But we all live that way. We’re living our lives and we have feelings about everything that builds up to this moment. It was very much trying to be in touch with how we process life.”

Here is what I like about Linklater’s thoughts.

  • The cumulative effect of intimate moments over time equals emotion or a feeling. Some may call this passion. When we are passionate about an initiative or purpose, there is a cumulative effect to our work. There are highs and there are lows. Emotions are present but so is progress.
  • Being in touch with how we process life. We need to embrace our life and what it can mean, what it should mean, and what we are meant for it to mean. When we get our process of life right, we get our purpose right. And when we get our purpose right, our process of doing the work enables our purpose to come to life.

Boyhood can invoke many emotions as we watch this set of lives unfold but the movie also demonstrates patience in purpose. Great things happen when we take the time to make purpose happen.

Millennials and the Power of Patience in Purpose

Millennials leaders have been characterized in many different ways, including impatient and filled with purpose. Having a sense of urgency in having an impact is a good thing. Nervous energy can distract us though. Doing the work necessary to have a long-lasting impact combines the best of patience and purpose.

My challenge and experience to share with Millennial leaders are to remember:

  • Purpose is to act upon what our talents, passions, soul, and mind are whispering for us to do. Listen closely. Act accordingly.
  • Patience is how we do the work necessary to realize our purpose. Use your patience to enhance your talents. Use your patience to collaborate and move your purpose forward each and every day.

Twelve years from now you will look back to see the purpose-filled life movie you created. Time will smile upon your efforts and all that you have achieved on purpose.

What role does patience play in your purpose? 


Special note:

Activate Leadership

Coming soon is my new book, Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Details will be available in mid-February 2015.