We all behave in ways we regret. Poor choices, bad timing, ill-chosen words. I recall an outburst that brought tears to my hearer. Who wouldn’t pay dearly to redo such a scene and choose kindness instead? Here are seven reasons to choose patience in the moment.
1. Inexperience takes time to overcome. Have you ever been sailing? If you learned as a child, the ways of wind and tiller are innate. Otherwise, it’s pure awkwardness. I recently took a friend sailing on a Sunfish. He’s very smart, highly successful, and omnicompetent. But he’d never been sailing. In a stiff breeze he swung the tiller left to go left. We both went overboard. The water was freezing, and the wind made it colder . . . but I remembered doing the same thing to my dad when I first learned to sail. We’re all inexperienced at certain things. Remembering that comes in handy.
2. We’re differently gifted. The adrenaline of expertise can save the day, cheer the fans, save the sick, or seal the deal. It can also erupt as a volcano of angst when partnered with less-skilled friends or colleagues. Respecting and/or deferring to each other’s strengths leads to the joy of partnership rather than the fallout of frustration.
3. We have limitations. What if I’m called to stand and deliver in an area of weakness? People will look down, check their phones, glance knowingly at others, and so on. Yet, some will stay with me, nodding, smiling, and affirming me afterwards. They know what it’s like to not be awesome at everything.
4. We have emotions. How do I perform when upset, intimidated, exhausted, anxious, or spent? Be the balm to those who feel.
5. We’re unenlightened. The older you grow the less you know. You may have performed more surgeries, but you know less about new procedures and equipment. Trade patience with others — each of you has something new to learn.
6. We disagree. It’s human. Cultures settle into factions which devolve into enmity. Yet, enmity is a lazy choice. Better to do the hard work of understanding one another. Disagreement can help us gain perspective, think more clearly, and learn respect.
7. We learn to love. Each of the attributes in this “love list” requires relational friction to refine, and the rewards of learning love influence all our relationships. Love is the greatest human attribute, and, like sailing, it’s learned through practice.