Patience vs. Accountability

In life we seem to be tested with rules or lessons we need to learn. It’s like the continuous learning state that I believe we’re all in has a superior teacher who knows exactly what lesson you need to learn and the exact moment you’re supposed to. And it also seems as though the lesson reoccurs until you absorb it (there are no shortcuts or cheating)!

Recently, many pieces of my life both professionally and personally are steering the current lesson: patience. In case you need a refresher, this is the definition of patience:

1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.

2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.

I decided to think about how I cope with patience. The best remedy to building more patience in all situations, I’ve come to uncover, actually has roots from dive master training. As you can no doubt appreciate being in depths of up to 120 feet in the water and finding yourself in a problem requires great deal of discipline so that made a lot of sense for me to draw on that experience to deal with patience. As a scuba diver you learn three important rules whenever you find yourself in any situation: (1) STOP, (2) BREATHE AND (3) ACT. Now the first two rules are pretty straightforward. The third one is a little tricky. “ACT”, can mean many things, but you should only complete an action that helps the situation improve not worsen. To be clear you cannot do anything that will add to the problem.

Here are some actions that can help build patience:

  • Go for a walk and look for something you have not seen before.
  • Sit in your favorite chair and reflect in silence.
  • Don’t talk, only listen to what the other person has to say. Pause before replying.
  • Actively look for things to smile and laugh at.
  • Take time to exercise – they don’t say “go burn off steam” for nothing!

Ok so now we understand patience. Now I want to advance to the specific issue that is invoking my requirement to learn patience in my life. Having patience is the outcome from very real issues in business and personal life today: accountability or lack thereof.

Definition of Accountability:

The definition is the obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

The lack of accountability I see every day from all facets of life is increasing and it’s driving me crazy! What happened to the days when a handshake was enough to close an agreement between two parties? I’m not sure if this is a generational thing, an upbringing issue or a cultural shift in behaviour but I am having a difficult time with the apparent lack of accountability that is building in society.

Listen to me, if you say you are going to do something, show up and do it! It’s that simple. If for some reason you are not able to do it, (life happens) then own up to it; don’t make excuses! Announce your error, accept the consequences that come from not delivering on your commitment and then identify what you are going to do to fix it. And realize it isn’t a green card to continue to miss fire on future deliveries. You only get one chance if any.

If you are a business that treats customers with no accountability, in other words you say something and do another, you won’t have customers for long. Customers have many choices, but they don’t have an endless level of patience!

In your personal life, you tend to have a little more latitude, but not much. If you are a person who has no obligations, does not take account for your actions, accepts no responsibility and is not transparent, how many friends and acquaintances are you going to keep? Not many.

Look this one is so simple it drives me crazy. If you commit to something, show up. If you can’t follow through accept responsibility. People have more respect for those who can take accountability rather than make excuses time and again. So although I’m learning a powerful lesson in patience, I hope others are learning a powerful lesson in accountability.

“You don’t have to worry about burning bridges, if you’re building your own”

― Kerry E. Wagner

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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