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Practice Makes Patient

Practice Makes Perfect Patient
A Special Edition Blog in Support of Veterans in the Workplace

As I prepared for military retirement, I did what every serviceman and servicewoman did: attend transitional seminars to help make me compatible with the civilian lifestyle.  They focused on resume writing, job hunting, and handling the stress of life after the military, sort of.  What they didn’t teach me was how to handle and cope with some of the minor nuances of the civilian workplace and how they were completely different from my career in uniform.  While we could no doubt talk about the vast differences between military versus civilian work ethic and culture, there is one I want to discuss today; the importance of patience and how it affects us as a professional as well as our overall health.

Patience is one of those skills; yes, it is a skill you can learn and master; some of us have it in abundance while others, like me, struggle with daily.  Over time, this struggle can cause health implications far worse to manage than the issue you were initially impatient with.  Some of you may have a limiting belief that “It takes too long to get things done,” or “Decisions take too long.  Decide and go!”

If you resonate with those above clichés, you aren’t alone.  Many of us believe it simply because that is how we were wired due to our long military careers.  In the military, we were given an order, and we were expected to execute that order almost instantaneously without much thought or effort behind it.  As leaders in the military, we were given a problem, and others looked to us to make those quick decisions and issue those orders.  This style of task after task completion suited us in the military because our jobs, whether in an office setting or on a field training exercise, were geared towards prepping us to make those types of tough decisions when we faced combat.

As a civilian, it isn’t like that.  Businesses aren’t preparing daily for fighting the horrors of the world.  We aren’t trying to get things done as fast as we can.  We are allowed to take time to evaluate the costs involved prior to and through execution.  We can think about how the participants might feel about this new project or new policy.  We didn’t always have time for that in the military but in the civilian workplace, we sometimes have a hard time adapting to this drastic change of pace.

So, how do we get to a sense of calm and start managing our expectations of others to establish more patience?  I can tell you it won’t happen overnight.  There is no snake oil charmer with a magic potion.  But there is a way, and that way is by knowing some key points about patience and actively practicing these tips throughout the day.

No One Makes You Impatient Except YOU!

  • The wait for a return email isn’t causing impatience. The boss not listening to your ideas isn’t either.  You are allowing those things to make you feel impatient and cause you stress and anger.
  • We control our own emotions. We lose our patience. Sure, there are all kinds of frustrating moments and people we encounter in our lives, but how we respond has always been, and will always be, up to us as individuals.

Be Mindful of the Things Making You Impatient

  • Many of us have too many thoughts racing through our heads and we can’t keep track of all of them at once. At InteraWorks, we coach a method called the MindSweep and focus on accepting the fact that we will never get it all done.
  • Accept that you will never get it all done, and that’s OK! Start by writing down everything you need to do, and then work on the tasks by priority.  Doing so lessens stress and anxiety and helps you become less impatient about waiting around for things you have no control over. 

Stop Doing Things That Aren’t Important

  • We all have things in our lives that take time away from what is important. One way of removing stress from our lives is to stop doing those things.
  • Look at your schedule from when you wake up to the time you go to sleep. Take out two or three things that you do that aren’t important but take time. It’s time to learn to say no to things that cause stress and make us impatient. 

Relax and Take Deep Breaths

  • You hear it all the time, RELAX!!
  • One of the easiest ways to ease impatient feelings is to take slow deep breaths to help calm the mind and body. If this doesn’t help, I personally find walking away from the problem and thinking of my last favorite vacation spot very helpful in getting refocused on what matters most. 

Make Yourself Wait

  • The best way to practice patience is to make yourself wait. Studies show that waiting for things makes us happier in the long run.
  • Start with something small like waiting a few extra minutes to get that morning cup of joe and then move on to something bigger. You will start to see a change in stress levels and then gain more patience as you practice.

You aren’t going to learn patience overnight, but you can practice how to manage your stress and become more patient over time.  The first step is owning up to the self-awareness that you are causing your own stress in this matter and that you alone need to address it.  Taking the necessary actions now, rather than later, will help you realize that you are able to manage your levels of impatience and then begin to truly experience and appreciate that you have served Our Country with respect and admiration, but that part of our life is over and it’s time to start a new journey full of wonder and excitement.

From all of us at InteraWorks  – Please accept our heartfelt wish that wherever your journey takes you, you know that we are grateful for you and for that service.

Author – Craig Andrews, US Army, Retired,
InteraWorks Facilitator


About InteraWorks

InteraWorks is a global learning company on a mission to elevate the human experience at work. Specializing in professional development and performance enablement, we offer top-rated learning programs based on four defined conditions that must exist for individuals, teams including Effective Edge, Best Year Yet, and the Essentials series. Our integrated learning framework and online tools generate immediate and sustainable breakthroughs in performance. Through decades of working at all levels in enterprise companies across many industries, we’ve built a reputation for helping people and organizations harness their focus, mindset, talent and energy to produce results that matter most. 


We’ve defined four conditions that must exist for an individual, team or organization to be effective within the arena of performance and development; Accountability, Focus, Alignment, and Integrity. We’ll continue to explore these and more in our blog and look forward to your engagement and interaction with us. Stay tuned as we engage the edges.