The tension of urgency and patience.

In commenting on Twitter to a reader of my blog, I wrote what is the essence of this post, which is this:

“Urgency and patience are in a constant tension for anyone seeking to do something meaningful.”

Tasks require urgency. I can’t imagine a diner waiting 4 hours for their food. I can’t imagine someone waiting 15 minutes for a price check at the supermarket. I can’t imagine someone waiting a week for a call back after looking for legal services. All of these are tasks, and they require a quick reaction.

Goals and achievements require patience. Starting a business. Gaining a following. Writing and promoting a book. These all require thousands of tasks to be completed. A huge amount of steps. The individual tasks while urgent, take time to complete. Patience is a must to get through it all.

I’ve found that most young people, including myself in the past, don’t have the right balance of this. They either have the patience and fail to take action on the tasks necessary to achieve their goals, or they have the urgency on the tasks, but not the patience to wait for the big payoff. In fact, on the extreme end of urgency you’ll find neuroticism, and on the extreme end of patience you’ll find associations with laziness. It’s natural to be that way when younger, the world hasn’t yet moved us to the middle. These aren’t ingrained in us entirely and can be changed even if we naturally gravitate towards one end of the spectrum, but it requires effort and experience to do so.

Think about your natural tendencies and calibrate as needed.

Thank you to Clare for the inspiration based on her comments: