Rather than respond with knee-jerk reactions or lash out in frustration or anger when change is needed, use constructive impatience.
Constructive impatience builds a case for carefully crafted actions that elicit collaboration and cooperation rather than anger.
For those who abhor change of any kind, I believe there are an equal number of us who want to challenge the status quo, to move quickly and to leap ahead. Some of us might finish people’s sentences. We click “send” before we re-read our email and tap our foot while the microwave works. We have two speeds: full speed ahead and stop.
Recognize yourself in that description?
I do. Trying to rein in that impulsive, impatient gene continues to be a frontier of growth and work for me. Certainly there are times in which slow is preferred, when actions must be carefully calculated, and words chosen with great deliberation. Impatience is framed as a negative.
Constructive Patience Elicits Collaboration
At a conference for NY Women in Banking, Beth Mooney re-framed it for me. Beth is the President and CEO of Key Bank and considered by the American Banking Industry to be one of the most powerful women in banking. She used a term that caught my attention: “constructive impatience”. It is when the status quo is unacceptable and action is called for. Rather than respond with knee-jerk reactions or lash out in frustration or anger, constructive impatience builds a case for carefully crafted actions that elicit collaboration and cooperation.
Constructive impatience is the result of changing the phrase, “somebody better do something” to “I better do something.” Since resiliency is about growing through challenge or opportunity, constructive impatience creates the actions that can impact the outcome. When a situation is intolerable, constructive impatience, coupled with courage – produces amazing results.
It was constructive impatience that prompted eight year-old Vivianne Harr in 2012 to open a lemonade stand so she could “take a stand against child slavery.” A picture of two Nepalese brothers holding hands as they struggled with boards on their backs was the only impetus she needed. Making lemonade in the kitchen with the help of her mother, Vivienne did what every kid does: stand on the corner and sell lemonade. But she had a purpose behind it. Within the first six months, her lemonade had raised over $100,000 for the anti-slavery campaign Not For Sale.
Anything Is Possible through Constructive Impatience
Constructive impatience also knows no bounds. With the help of her father, Eric Harr, Make A Stand Lemon-Aide is a full-grown company which distributes its bottled beverages at 70 West Coast based retail locations. Half of the profits go to UNICEF, Free the Slaves, and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour.
Dr G. Venkataswamy, known as Dr. V, knew that access to cataract surgery could successfully treat the leading cause of blindness in India. Impatient with the government model, he established Aravind Eye Hospitals.
Although crippled with arthritis, his constructive impatience and hard work enabled him to hold a scalpel and perform more than 100 surgeries a day. By sitting in the center of the surgery room, patients radiated around him like the spokes of a wheel. He simply moved his chair from one patient to the next.
Over the years, this organization has evolved into a sophisticated system dedicated to compassionate service for sight. The Aravind Eye Care System now serves as a model for India, and the rest of the world. It offers a model that health care in the United States could well learn from.
Five Ways to Turn Constructive Impatience into Reality
Have a clear understanding of exactly what you are impatient about and why it matters. How is not important at first, but the why is what will bring others to help you.
Constructive implies that improvement is the goal. What are the measurable signs that will tell you improvement is happening?
Start small – one glass of lemonade at a time. A mile takes awhile. But an inch is a cinch.
Ask for what you need. If you don’t ask, you won’t get.
Celebrate often. We cheer a baby when it takes its first step – not when the grown teen has run a marathon. Constructive impatience needs encouragement.
Read the words of a Renaissance man who was always impatient for new ways of interacting and seeing the world.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
About the Author
Eileen McDargh is a Hall of Fame professional speaker, management consultant, resiliency expert and top thought-leader in leadership. © McDargh Communications.