Impatience is a virtue

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Posted by Matthew Stibbe

My colleague, Clare, gave me this title – ‘impatience is a virtue’ – to work with and this is what I came up with.

Get a cup of coffee and prepare for launch. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it should have been. The status quo is obsolete. Best practice is someone else’s idea of what you should do. Good enough isn’t. As an entrepreneur, it’s all about attitude.

Impatience – the fierce hunger for progress – is one of the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur. For them (for us), impatience is a virtue.

What is your boss thinking?

If you want to understand what your boss is thinking, remember that she is probably frustrated that things aren’t changing fast enough.

NASA coffee cup with a space launch in the foam

Is it worth your time?

Impatience often arises from a realisation that your time is the most precious commodity you have. Invest it wisely.

xkcd saving time chart
Thank you  XKCD for this. Is it worth your time? Funny but also useful. Hat tip also to the ever-marvellous  Chart Porn.

Impatience is a virtue (for entrepreneurs)

  • Don’t believe the hype. Lots of people, me included, will tell you about their shining success and how they achieved it. Just look at all the business biographies next time you’re in an airport book shop. Four-hour Work Week! Hah! Overnight success is a myth. Listen to Alex Blumberg’s painfully-honest and charming StartUp podcast for a dash of reality.
  • Failure is good for you. You don’t learn much from success. This is why so many mega-hits are followed by lousy sequels. Matrix Revolutions anyone? Failure is a better teacher: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’ (Samuel Beckett)
  • Taking a break is work. Getting up insanely early is the latest fad recommendation for entrepreneurs. In fact, I wrote How I trained myself to get up earlier, so I’m not immune from giving this advice. (But I wrote my piece in 2006, before it became fashionable. Ahem.) But the truth is you have to find your own pace, your own sleep and work patterns. Sometimes taking a short break, a long walk or even a holiday at work is more important
  • Time is precious. Waste it. Your time is more valuable than diamonds. An hour spent solving an important problem, closing a great deal or writing an awesome blog post adds more value to your business than an hour wasted on emails or pointless meetings. But your personal time is also precious. As Bertrand Russell said, ‘time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time.’ There are three essential skills: delegation, prioritisation and saying ‘no’.

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time

Bertrand Russell

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Habits, love and respect

  • Habits trump passionPassion has no place in business and there are too many myths about productivity. Willpower is not a lengthy visitor. I find that I need to turn it into something sustainable and the one thing that consistently helps is to form a new habit. Leo Babauta’s Zenhabits blog and Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit are the definitive sources on this point.
  • Love and respect are business assets. I’m not a ‘take what you want, give nothing back’ type of boss. I strongly believe that running a business is an engine for progress, a noble calling, a Good Thing. It is an expression of creativity and an opportunity to show respect to people, no less so than any other calling. Work is love made visible.
work is love made visible - attitudes for entrepreneurs

What do you think? What works for you?

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(Image hat tip: NASAio9)