I often find myself caught in the paradox of patience versus action. On one hand, patience is often the key to breakthrough insights and aids coaching clients in their life/career transformations. When working with others it is easy to see how slowing down helps them to explore the nuances of their interpersonal relationships and life aspirations. Change takes time. On the other hand, I can be really impatient with myself. When I set a goal, I am itching to act. I want to do more in less time.
My recent book, 35 Truths, took much longer than I thought. 35 perspectives – what’s the big deal? I live and breathe this stuff; I can whip the book out over a long weekend! 18 months later, it was done and I couldn’t be more proud.
Recently, I was juggling several demanding projects and I found myself growing frustrated with the time/action paradox of my own making. During a trip to visit our West Coast family, I walked along a path in the bamboo forest in Huntington Botanical Gardens. The bamboo grove towers 70 feet into the sky, blocking out the afternoon sun.
While I was there, I learned that some bamboo varietals often take 5 years or more after planting before above-ground growth appears. Before the plant can shoot skyward it must develop a significant root structure to support its pending massive growth spurt of more than 7 feet per year. That day I slowed down – and in the quiet, still space of the bamboo forest, I remembered that many things in life take time to develop and we can’t always rush that growth.
This type of slow but steady growth may resonate with you; nurturing and achieving mastery is more than merely putting in the time. Rather, you get to create your own significant root structure – by exploring, experimenting, examining, and evaluating.
How to start? Take a deep breath and lighten up. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate the patience of waiting for growth over time. When it does come, you’ll appreciate it much more. Indeed, your performance or career breakthroughs may not occur in years one, two, or three. Your massive epiphanies and peak performance may be in your fifth year. Slow down to soak up profound learnings, whenever they may be, so you may grow ever stronger and contribute more significantly to those around you. Best wishes for your root structure!