How patient do you need to be?

How patient do you need to be?

As a leader you will almost certainly feel a degree of pressure at some point when delivering change.

When this happens it can feel as if you’re the only one up for what it’s going to take to achieve the outcomes your organisation is looking for.

And it can be very lonely to feel you’re the only one who seems prepared to put in the hours and push through the work required.

But what if a different approach would get you results more easily and quickly?

In this blog I’ll look at how choosing to be patient can play a critical role when leading change and I’ll propose 3 strategies you can use to increase your feeling of being in control while delivering successful outcomes.

The topic of patience struck me as I was watching a group of pelicans the other day, seemingly lining up for the parts of their catch fisherman were throwing back into the sea.

As you can see from the photo there was a relaxed calmness to this process.

This struck me as odd, in my experience birds typically squabble over food, but not with this crowd. Maybe these pelicans have learnt one of three helpful life lessons:

1. Decide what to expend energy on / what to fight for

Is there any point in using up energy in trying to queue jump, or get ahead of others? Maybe yes, often no, especially if the energy I’ll use up on this battle may not leave any spare for an opportunity that matters more.

2. There are always options / choices

What other choices are there, and how does this one compare? There may or may not be a free feed coming up but if not, then there literally are more fish in the sea. Why risk injury or strife if another option is to go and find fresh fish for yourself?

3. What will be, will be

If a piece of fish flies my way, I can catch it with my enormous beak, but if not, is it worth getting agitated? Sometimes life gives and other times it takes away, going with the flow more often means I can conserve my energy for the times it really matters.

Thank you for indulging my musings as to what drives pelicans! But now we’re down that path what if we extrapolate these points into our world?

1. Decide what to expend energy on / what to fight for

We all can, and often do, waste an enormous amount of energy thinking about what’s not gone well, repeating slights and injustices against us, and worrying about things that are completely out of our control.

Take some time each day to consider what activities you are expending energy on. Are you spending most time on the areas that are going to make the greatest impact – the well know 80/20 rule?

This is particularly important with regards to emotional energy which is often the most in demand in situations of rapid or significant change.

2. There are always options / choices –

I can remember a time I felt completely trapped in my job, with seemingly no choices. A wise colleague counselled “Virginia, you always have choices” At the time I disagreed vehemently, but many months later I saw the truth in his comment.

When we’re caught up in a situation it can be very hard to look for other ways dealing with it. Speak with trusted colleagues, a coach or mentor to help you open up your thinking.

3. What will be, will be –

There are many many things we can’t control in our world. The truth is that the only one we truly have any say over is how we choose to think and react to what happens.

Take time to reflect as to how you use your valuable time and energy and what you might want to let go of to focus more on the opportunities that really matter to you.

How do you stay patient and manage your energy?

Please leave your thoughts and comments below or email me at I would love to hear from you.

Failing Your Way to Success

Failing Your Way to Success

Failing Your Way to Success

Commenting to a friend recently how much I was struggling with the issue of failing in relation to certain business goals, she replied “well…no one likes failing do they?”

And I don’t believe anyone does, but what about those who manage to see a failed attempt as education, as necessary feedback to see if a chosen approach works?

Isn’t the real issue how quickly we can put a failure in context, learn what we need to learn from a failure and move on.

Given we know that failing is typically necessary on the path to success, what if we could find a faster way to deal with this process?

In this blog I’ll consider why it is we don’t find it easy to fail, and propose a 3-step process you can use whenever you want to deal with failure in a more productive way.

When Did Failure Become Bad?

Failing to achieve goals or live up to standards we set for ourselves can deplete our energy and make us doubt our abilities. It can send us into black moods and take away our desire to tackle anything difficult. When we look back, however, we often see that our failures have contributed to subsequent success, so why can’t we make this connection earlier?

I have often heard the comment “If toddlers treated failure as a reason to stop trying, they’d never walk” And the vast majority of us are living proof we pushed through that challenge! What changed?
When we’re toddlers taking our first steps our environment is one of support and encouragement. No one comments “you’ve probably given that enough of a go why don’t you stop that and try something else?” Toddlers are also sponges for what is going on around them. They will see people walking and see no reason why they shouldn’t do the same.

As we grow older there’s no doubt that the expectation of others and ourselves start to colour our view of failure. When others achieve higher scores, complete things in shorter times or develop skills more easily we start to questions. Maybe I’m not meant to be good at that, maybe I should try something else.

Inspiration from “Eddie the Eagle”

But not everybody, the movie Eddie the Eagle is based on the real-life story of a boy who was absolutely convinced from an early age that he was destined to be an Olympian. He goes through some unbelievable hurdles and enlists support from unlikely places to finally achieve his dream. It’s inspiring, Eddie held onto his belief and saw every set back or failure as challenges to overcome.

While we find the end result inspiring, as is typically the case Eddie was viewed as crazy by almost everyone. Why couldn’t he accept ‘reality’ and stop pursuing what seemed impossible. The answer was that what drove him was much stronger than short term failure or other people’s views.

Turning Failure into Success

So I think the questions you ideally ask yourself are

How long should I reflect on a failure so you can learn what you need and let the rest go?

Is what I’m doing helping me learn what I need to get to where I want to go?

The next time you’re doubting your ability, or dwelling a lot on what’s not working out for you or your business, consider trying the following approach:

  • What is the truth? What actually happened, or what’s actually happening right now?
  • If you were to learn from this. What would the lesson be? What would you do differently? What else would you try?
  • Make a choice, and congratulate yourself for having the courage to try and risk failure.
    Rinse and repeat.

I’m very interested in hearing how you view and deal with failure. Let me know in the comments section below!