The Importance of Being Patient

“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”
– Arnold H. Glasow 

About 2000 years ago, a young Carthaginian general named Hannibal was facing the mighty Romans during the 2nd Punic War. He hated the Romans to the core and was close to squaring off with them in battle. At the Battle of Lake Trasimene, he devised an ingenious plan to lure the Romans into a narrow road to ambush them.

He eventually executed his ambush of the Roman army with great finesse, killing 15,000 of them in less than 4 hours.

Many historians and military academies lauded his ingenuity, creativity and tactical excellence. But undeniably, patience was a core attribute of his success in his numerous victories against Rome as well – taking time to carefully plan the optimal way and moment to engage the enemy.


 King: “Have patience, my queen. Let the pawns fight and die first…”

Being patient does not equate to inaction.

It’s not sitting on your ass and waiting for gold to drop from the sky and nicely onto your lap. It involves meticulous planning on the optimal course of action to undertake, as well as the appropriate time to do so. Like master chess players, they plan the best set of moves and even wait for the opportune time to execute those killer set of moves.

1. Being patient will allow you to think & plan rationally

“Sometimes things aren’t clear right away. That’s where you need to be patient and persevere and see where things lead.” – Mary Pierce

I’ve seen first-hand how many bad decisions have been made by people around me, whether in matter of relationships or careers, only due to their lack of patience which had inadvertently clouded their abilities to think rationally. One classic example is at work.

Let’s say Tim hates his job. His boss passes him over for a promotion, throws even more work in his direction because he knows Tim will probably do whatever it takes to get it done. Tim is just so damn responsible and conscientious and everyone knows, and exploits that. Tim stays back on endless nights while some of his less-than-capable colleagues head out of office early everyday.


No one but Tim deserves this award.

So Tim thinks of quitting. He has had enough. He dreams about sashaying out of the office on the last day, feeling liberated from this BS. No more inequitable distribution of workload nor treatment. He decides to accept a new job that doesn’t really seem like a great deal, but he feels there are limited choices because the alternative is the current hell that he’s going through. And he’s just so sick of this shit.

But alas, that initial euphoria of leaving that job eventually died down as he had accepted a job in the one of the firm’s competitors, which is equally as notorious for being a shitty employer. The cycle repeats for Tim.

Being in a shitty predicament for a prolonged period of time can take its toll on anyone. But like in Tim’s case, what if he had been a little more patient? He could have clearly planned which awesome opportunities he could really pursue, and thereafter set out to implement his search for a career upgrade instead of settling for a low-hanging fruit.

Emotions of desperation and impatience will cloud your ability to see the entire picture.

2. Some things in life just need time to come to fruition

So Tim became wise. He decided to be patient, planned his next desired career move and sent out a few job applications. No response. He sent out more and more. He gets one call for a phone interview, to which he somehow screws up. And then nothing. He gets frustrated because even though his plan was well thought out, it isn’t yielding results as quickly as he wanted. This is where this point comes in.

“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”  ― Warren Buffett

Even if you have finally gotten all your damn ducks in a row and are optimistic about the potential dividends, certain things take some freaking time. Let’s use an example in terms of relationships cos I’ve lost patience with Tim for now.

Brad meets a girl. Oh my gosh she seems like the one Brad thinks he can marry. He rushes it and intend to push for marriage and whatnot within a few short months. It’s exciting and he can’t wait to propose, marry and make a few babies. Brad then splashes out all the cash on the wedding.


But then after all that hype, he realize that she ain’t MS RIGHT; she’s MS ALWAYS RIGHT. Brad simply cannot put up with her living habits, her attitude and various other little things that drive him mad incessantly. Brad had simply spent too little time to understand who she really was before tying the knot.

You can’t rush certain things in life no matter how eager or conscientious you are. It takes time.


3. Being patient allows you to remained focused on the priorities

“Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.”
Joyce Meyer

Sometimes in life, even if we follow the above two points diligently, our grand plan can potentially be shot to hell. Whether you wanna call it Murphy’s Law or simply just shit hitting the fan every once in a while, it happens to all of us.

Back to Tim. He knows there’s a few crucial things that he needs to accomplish at his crappy job today. A thousand things are awaiting his attention and he needs to prioritize. But he kept receiving calls and emails from an annoying colleague who is in a hurry to obtain something from Tim. It isn’t a priority for Tim as he has far more important matters to attend to.

Losing patience, he finally yields to the incessant bugging and attends to the trivial matter, wasting precious time which was originally meant for crucial stuff. He sacrificed his evening to complete the crucial matters, and ended up having no time left to apply for this new fancy position at a cool company. The job opening closed the next day, and eventually Tim found out that Brad had gotten the job.

Tim hit his own head against the wall after pulling his hair out.

Head in Hands

Poor Tim is still stuck at his current crappy job.

There are a lot of distractions around us these days but being patient will help someone like Tim to remain focused on what’s essential in his life. True that he needs to do his work diligently, but what about his grand plan to find a new employer? That got shot out the window. Poor Tim.

Multi-tasking does not necessarily mean doing three things simultaneously, but deciding which requires immediate attention and which can afford to be done later or delegated to someone else.

Just because you can accomplish a certain task right now doesn’t means it’s the best time to do so.

Good luck to Tim, while the rest of us go on to achieve great things in life.

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