Urgency V Patience – Which Will Bring You Success in Life and Business?

How to practice patience and get the urgent done

Things to do. Tasks to get done. People to see. Jobs to delegate. A business to build and grow. You’ve got 101 things to do, and they all need to be done now. They’re all urgent. So, what we’re about to tell you may surprise you. Slow down. Be patient.

You’ve come so far, don’t rush now and see your opportunity of success slide away.

Patience is the key to success

Have you ever watched the high jump at the Olympics? It’s a classic demonstration of urgency v patience. 

In 2016, Derek Drouin became Canada’s first ever men’s high jump Olympic champion. He beat the field with a jump at 2.38. On his way to his victory, he attempted (and cleared) every step-up in height – 2m 20cm; 2m 25cm; 2m 29cm; 2m 33cm; and 2m 36cm.

Drouin’s sense of urgency – to win the gold medal – was tempered by his ability to be patient. Consequently, he built his win on a solid foundation.

Kobe Bryant, whom many consider as the best Laker of all time – had a great analogy for the need to balance urgency and patience in life. He likened the struggle to balancing on a tightrope. Lean too far one way, and you must balance by leaning the other. You remained balanced and on track toward your goal by alternating between the one side of urgent and the other side of patience.

Importance vs urgency

There’s a difference between doing things that are important and acting with urgency. In his book, A Sense of Urgency, organizational change expert John Kotter describes ‘urgent patience’ as follows:

“Behaving urgently does not mean constantly running around. Screaming ‘Faster-faster’, creating too much stress for others, and then becoming frustrated when no one else completes every goal tomorrow. That is false urgency. People who understand the basics—a faster-moving world, the need for more urgency—fall into the false-urgency trap far too often.

“Because true urgency has this strong element of now, it can be easy to forget the time frame into which large changes and achievements fit. 

“Behaving urgently to help create great twenty-first-century organizations demands patience, too, because great accomplishments—not just the activity associated with false urgency—can require years. 

“The right attitude might be called ‘urgent patience’. That might sound like a self-contradictory term. It’s not. It means acting each day with a sense of urgency but having a realistic view of time. It means recognizing that five years may be needed to attain important and ambitious goals, and yet coming to work each day committed to finding every opportunity to make progress toward those goals. Urgent patience captures in two words a feeling and set of actions that are never seen with a false sense of urgency.”

How to practice patience and get the urgent done

Your long-term success in life and business requires both patience and urgency. Too much patience will result in things not getting done. 

Too much urgency, and you could burn out or make mistakes on your road toward your goals. Mistakes that could set you back months or years, or even remove your opportunity of success. Like the marathon runner who trains too hard and tears a hamstring a week before the big race.

It’s essential that you pace yourself. Yes, you must work hard each day, or you won’t achieve your goals. You must also recognize that there is another day. It’s a long journey. Practice patience in life. Success will come.

Here are our tips to practice urgent patience:

Patience in life delivers success

We expect you’ve heard the saying, ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’. If you act too urgently you risk doing things impulsively. You risk recklessness. It’s why we plan things before starting them. 

You don’t build a castle by throwing bricks around. You manage the project by being patient and planning each stage of the build. Of course, a sense of urgency will help to motivate you toward your goal, but being patient will help to ensure your goal is achieved, without risking your castle being built on a foundation of sand.

Start each day by being patient. Consider what you achieved yesterday, and plan what you desire to achieve today. Keep your eye on the big picture, and work urgently on each milestone when you need to. 

Do you want help to practice urgent patience? Take the Entrepreneur Assessment. It takes only a couple of minutes, and will help you achieve the insight you need to move your business – and your life – forward faster.


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