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Why Patience Is Not Enough

Why Patience Is Not Enough

June 27, 2023

Patience is a virtue, but... 

Patience is not enough. 


Don't get me wrong, patience is great. When you're able to wait for a project, new habit, or thesis to play out through its inevitable ups and downs, you open yourself up to serious achievements. 


But "able to wait" has a subtler, less discussed component that's just as, if not more, important than patience. 


You don't have a patience problem. 

Maybe it will come as a relief to you that some problems you've encountered (and beaten yourself up over) weren't actually failures of patience, and weren't caused by a lack of basic knowledge or will. 


Often, we've just failed to shore up our positioning and wound up unable to make that patience applicable to our real, messy lives. 


Patience is not enough, because alone it's just a mindset or intention. The willingness to do something is not a sufficient replacement for the ability to do it. 


And here's the good news: 

This is not an intractable problem. It's one solved by knowledge, planning, and strategy. The tools already exist, and you need to understand how to make sure you have access to them and how to use them when they're needed. 


Most often, this comes down to time and resources.  

  • Have you allowed enough time for your plans and ideas to play out before external events start to force your hand?  
  • Are you aware of all the external events that would force your hand?  
  • Do you know what resources you'll need to take advantage of an opportunity, while it's still an opportunity?  
  • Will the same circumstances that open the door to that opportunity affect you in unexpected ways that hinder your ability to pursue it? 


Vicious cycles... 

Here's the problem. Often, the same or related external events that cause our emergencies (i.e. job loss) also cause the opportunities we wish we could take advantage of (i.e. lower stock or real estate prices). Simply understanding that a severe market downturn won't last, and that it presents a buying opportunity for patient investors won't help you if your available funds are tied up in those same or correlated now lower-priced assets. What will you use to take advantage of the opportunity?  


Only the well-positioned get to actually use the information we all seem to possess.  


Similarly, bad positioning reinforces itself. One who loses a job when the economy declines, and who then needs additional funds, may need to sell assets, which are also being affected by the same economy, at exactly the wrong time. The position weakens further. 


If you're a business owner, you're likely already aware that the right time to secure open lines of financing is not when times have already gotten tough. Credit has a tendency to tighten up just when an influx of borrowers suddenly need it. 


So, what am I supposed to do about it? | Everything in its proper place 

Often, positioning means... 

  • Starting before you are sure exactly why or when you'll need something. 
  • Starting early enough and allowing enough time for a proven process to unfold without being rushed or short-circuited by unexpected events.  
  • Cultivating healthy, trusting relationships organically over time. Support networks aren't built suddenly in times of crisis. 
  • Protecting your rest and your health so that you can access your reserves of patience and strength when you need to draw on them.  
  • Margin for error, reserves, and planned redundance, so that you don't need to tap into something that belongs in the "patience" bucket in order to serve something in the "now" bucket.  


...What it means in any specific case will vary, but the universal truth is that you can't exercise patience when you haven't first sorted out your positioning.  


Those who take a long view, benefit from opportunities, and eschew fear to take action during a panic DON'T just have a stronger mindset than everyone else. By necessity, they're better positioned than most, too. 


So, take a deeper look 

If there's a specific set of circumstances that must start or continue indefinitely in order for you to be successful, then your positioning needs to be able to handle a wider range of outcomes. Hoping for consistently favorable conditions rarely works out over the long run. 


How have you worked on your positioning? Are you preparing? What are you ready for? More importantly, what aren't you ready for?