Doing Nothing is Doing Something
Patience is a strategy, though not always an effective one. While you are patiently passive, watchful, or waiting, the world moves forward, and sometimes it means that opportunities are lost. A sense of urgency is an important asset in a job and career.
On the other hand, patience can be an effective strategy, because the world moves forward—opportunities are created, shifts in politics, trends, and people make way for you and your ideas. Willingness to pause and reflect, and willingness to give others space and time for their benefit and your own are both important.
But there are guidelines for time. Here are a few:
- Deadlines are someone’s time management tool and they are real. Meet deadlines. If you fail to meet a deadline set by someone else, you are sending a message. If you fail to meet your own deadline, you are reprioritizing, which is your right and obligation. If you set a deadline, make it reasonable; it is never okay to rush everyone else and then take your time with your end of the transaction. And, setting an artificial deadline is negotiating against yourself.
- It’s good to be patient, but bad to ignore problems, trouble, or situations that require feedback. Your failure to communicate may be experienced by someone else as tacit acceptance, agreement, or utter lack of caring. There’s a price tag on that, and the price is higher the longer you hold back.
- Timeliness is the quality you are searching for. Timeliness is akin to harmony—the action comes when the reaction you want is ready, not too early and not too late. It’s no coincidence; it’s often thoughtfulness—you scan the universe for the right interval and there it is.
- Feedback is most useful to someone as close as possible to the event the feedback is intended to address. Don’t wait to give feedback if change is what you want—immediate is best, and the value of feedback decreases as the moment recedes into the past. A thank you, for example, is immediate. Meaningless when long-delayed. Truly meaningless and offensive: apologies for a very late thank-you. The thank you all by itself is better, with no excuses.
- Strike while the iron is hot. Act on opportunity if you think the opportunity is for you. That doesn’t mean consuming the opportunity whole; it does mean being ready for opportunity to the degree possible. If you are a job seeker; have a basic resume handy. But take the time to add important elements, add a brief cover letter, and say a thank you. Letting the iron go cold is when you don’t have a resume at all and you try to drop everything else to craft the perfect resume and cover letter for the dwindling opportunity.
- Pacing is important; spurts of energy and activity just confuse everyone. On the other hand, you can get a lot done if you work until you finish. But is it good work if you did it all in one sitting? A combo of patience and urgency looks just right to me.
- Seasons are there for a reason; pay attention. When the season is over, it’s over. Take the tree down even if you love the lights.
- Just be on time.Don’t keep people waiting. As the oldest child of parents with different internal clocks, I can tell you that clocks are for managing expectations and getting on the same page. The time of day is a fact, not a problem.
If you do nothing, the world will still click along. Just keep an eye on it and jump in where you can and where you must.