6 November 2013

Patience: The Forgotten Business Virtue

Ever noticed how we are so caught up with having to do things quickly?

Technological change and globalisation have pushed society towards expecting things instantly. Global companies are able to operate 24/7, with many employees expected to answer emails from their mobiles and sick days have become ‘work at home’ days. 

This mindset and constant ability to be contacted has resulted in many people becoming obsessed with getting to our destination via the shortest possible route rather than guaranteeing the best possible outcomes. I think this approach means that we are actually missing out on some invaluable opportunities and possibilities. If we are really interested in excelling, I think we need to be patient enough to say, ‘let’s stop, step back and look at this problem from another angle. Let’s take the time to listen to other viewpoints, opinions and perspectives’. This is the key to ensuring the best thinking, solutions, strategies, and products.

This is a mindset that I have attempted to apply at the University of Sydney Business School, regardless of the looming deadlines that we often face. On one occasion we had to develop a video pitch just four days before its due date. There was only one problem: none of us knew how to make a video. However, we succeeded because we were patient enough to sit down and learn the process instead of just expecting that someone would instantly be able to do it for us.

In another imminent deadline situation, we took the time to listen to each group member’s opinions and ideas. While this time-consuming exercise required a lot of extra compromise and discussion, which became frustrating at times, it nonetheless enabled us to gain new insights into our project and arrive at a more comprehensive solution.

On a much larger scale, some of the world’s most successful businesses already know the advantages of taking the long road. Indeed, some of the best CEOs have started at the very bottom of their organisations, working their way up over years and gaining crucial tools by learning every facet of their business along the way. Shortcuts and fast tracks are not always the most effective option. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, patience is something I aim to keep applying wherever necessary – deadline or not. After-all, rushing to the finish line often means missing out on the chance to be your best.

Author: Kate Morison – Master of Management student

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