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BW Businessworld

The Mystery Of Patience Revealed

Pause to take time to find out what’s important to you. Pause before you report

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The workplace is intense these days in the pressure to perform. Our individual and collective efforts to exercise patience is being tested more than ever. Most of us have a routine of rushing that doesn’t seem to  end. The Sufi saint  Kabir said, “dhirey, dhirey re mana; dhirey sab kuch hoy;maali seenchey sow ghara; ritu aaye phal hoy” (go slow dear heart, for all occurs in time/ the gardener sprinkles a hundred pots full, but fruits only come in season).

Buddha declared patience to be the highest form of asceticism and advised, “Be patient, everything comes to you at the right moment.” A famous Chinese proverb goes, “Patience and the mulberry leaf become a silk gown”.  Abundance of nature has led Africans to spend more time in contemplation than in fighting for survival. Among its thousands of proverbs and aphorisms on ‘patience’ is one from Sudan, which says, “Patience is the key which solves all problems”. “To run is not necessarily to arrive,” is a Swahili proverb. An Ibo proverb goes, “Always being in a hurry does not prevent death, neither does going slowly prevent living.”

The wise Sun Tzu, in his now famous treatise, The Art of  War teaches us more than waiting passively for the enemy. He teaches us to incite, lure and tempt the enemy into action.  As per Sun Tzu, patience is about preparing ourselves first and then waiting for the right opportunity to arise. Some feel that waiting is harder than an attack or defence. Here are the quotes on getting ready and then waiting:

[03.21] (4) One who is prepared and waits for the unprepared will be victorious;
[04.01] In ancient times, those skilled in warfare made themselves invincible and then waited for the enemy to become vulnerable.
[05.15] They offer bait that which the enemy must take, manipulating the enemy to move while they wait in ambush.
[09.11] When the rainwater rises and descends down to where you want to cross, wait until it settles.
[10.08] For steep ground, if you occupy it first, occupy the high on the sunny side and wait for the enemy.

Modern leaders can practice patience at the workplace by:  

1.    Changing lenses to perspectivise: the subject’s lens, an objective bystander lens and that of a trusted resource.
2.    Mindfulness, listening and objective analysis of the situation    
3.    Being responsible yourself.

In modern times, we as a collective set, seem to be people out of control. We need to learn to pause. In her now famous graduation commencement speech, Maria Shriver said, “Pausing allows you to take a beat — to take a breath in your life. As everybody else is rushing around like a lunatic out there, I dare you to do the opposite”.

Pause to take time to find out what’s important to you. Pause before you report something you don’t know to be absolutely true. Pause before you put a rumour out as fact. Pause before you hit the “send” button. Pause before you make judgments and pause before forwarding untrue and inflammatory trivia. The Gita says, “Never lose your focus and never underestimate the virtue of patience.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Magazine 2 September 2017 BW Wisdom workplace cuture

Piyush Sharma

Piyush Sharma is a modern management practitioner and ancient philosophy enthusiast

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