“To lose patience is to lose the battle.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Like millions of people this past holiday season, I was one of the unfortunate victims of “Southwest Gate” (pun intended).
We decided at the last minute to try snow skiing for the first time the week before Christmas. It’s been a few years since our big family vacation, but we thought it would be nice to be adventurous and spend some quality family time together.
Of course, flight delays and cancellations are nothing new. Nearly every flight I’ve taken in the last six months has been a flip of the coin, with take-offs delayed by hours or days. But life can slow down a bit, especially when you’re on vacation. Getting stuck in an airport is enough to push even the most patient of us beyond the proverbial limit.
But as they say, patience is a virtue. Whether in business or life in general, this is one of the most important lessons to learn. And like anything difficult to master, patience takes practice.
For our family, the practice of patience began at the very beginning of our trip. This has always been a formidable TSA security line.
Filled with vacationers, I was one of the lucky ones to get out of the pre-TSA line (waited patiently for 15 minutes) and had to start over at the main checkpoint . Game Start.
30 minutes later after my bag was pulled for a manual search due to an oversized bottle of shampoo (I blamed my wife) I made it to the gate only to be told my flight was delayed . No big deal. This has been the goal of many years of practice, and I took it boldly.
When I landed in Colorado, I took a deep breath. We made it and it’s time to relax. As I waited outside in the freezing cold for the shuttle to and from the hotel, I could feel my children getting restless. I told them not to worry. We sat quietly trying to warm up for 45 minutes until the shuttle van finally arrived.
But our full-body endurance training wasn’t over yet.
We waited an hour to get our skis. From the chairlift to the hot chocolate, we waited in line.
All first world problems, of course, but it required some patience nonetheless.
And of course, the end of our trip was capped off with the cancellation of our return flight before finally ending our vacation (aka “patience training”) a few days behind schedule.
Business, like travel, is unpredictable.
A day at work is not much different than a day at a traveler because of the constant flow of uncontrollable events. Just like flights, you never know when a big sale or important project might be delayed or cancelled.
In the workplace, patience is more than just a virtue. it’s a requirement. This goes hand in hand with perseverance, a key trait shared by most successful people.
So, while I admit this holiday season trip wasn’t all that fun, there was a bright side. Ultimately, it was an opportunity for all weary travelers to exercise their patience (and wait patiently for Southwest refunds) to prepare to return to work next year.
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