What one word sums up your hope for the year ahead? Judy Duncan, principal of West Bay, chose voice as her word, and Superintendent Chris Kennedy chose hope. I suppose it is fitting that the month is almost over; because the word I have chosen is patience.
Leo Tolstoy is quoted as saying “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” In the education system there is often a sense of urgency to get new initiatives up and running or to add a new program or cover new material. As teachers we also feel a sense of urgency because we have only one year with our students and there is always so much that we want our student to learn and experience. I often feel as if I’m fighting against time to “get things done.” However, anything that is truly worth doing, is worth doing well, and that means moving carefully and sometimes slowly.
An old proverb says, “The patient man will rule the world.” I believe it to be true. Impatience only hinders achievement. When we take things patiently, look at difficulties calmly, half their power to overwhelm is gone. If we can learn to be more patient and teach our children to be more patient we can over come obstacles and make thoughtful decisions. To cultivate any art, talent, or skill we must make dedicated efforts over time, which requires patience.
Today more than ever we have access to information and products almost instantly. We can watch what we want on demand, have a new toaster at our door step in less than 24 hours or meet a potential partner by swiping right on our phones. Traffic jams, e-mails, and meetings all have way of making us more and more impatient. Patience really is a virtue that we need more of now than ever before.
Cultivating patience builds empathy. When we take the time to consider another’s point-of-view and move away from feelings of frustration, expectations or “shoulds.” We become more tolerant of others. Tolerance and patience for others replaces fear and allows for compromise and problem solving.
Additionally, learning to be patient in an age of instant gratification has implications for stress and anxiety levels and overall health. Allowing ourselves to take time and move slowly decreases stress and I believe also leads to better judgements and smarter decisions. Going slow to go fast, is a phrase that I often remind myself of in times when I’m over whelmed by the decisions I need to make. Learning to say, let me think about this and get back to you has allowed me to make better decisions the first time and overall save time because I don’t have to double back and repair situations that arose from poor decisions.
I think back to my parents’ and grandparents’ generation (and without over simplifying and romanticizing the past); they believed in patience and saving. If they wanted something, they put a little money aside over the course of months or years until they could afford to purchase it. The patience this requires is immense. Developing financial literacy is essentially about developing patience. How much better off would we all be if we saved a little more and spent a little less!
So my word for 2017 is patience. Imagine the world of 2018 if we all were just a little bit more patient! It’s worth the wait.