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Friday Refill: How Patience Pays Off

Published 3/19/2021

Patience is more than a virtue. Patience is a signal that you understand the importance of gratitude and the vanity of rushing or attempting to control what you cannot. In this Friday refill, we'll discuss some of the mechanics of patience and how it relates to other parts of our lives.

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Happy Friday everybody! My name is Jonathan Cutrell, you're listening to another Friday refill episode of Developer Tea. What have you waited for recently? Something that comes to mind that many people, at the time of the recording of this episode, are waiting on, is a vaccine. And this can be a very frustrating feeling knowing that the normal life for something closer to what you remember is seemingly around the corner. It can be even more frustrating to know that in some places, at the end of a day, there are vaccines that end up being thrown away. And as you go into your weekend, if you haven't been vaccinated, and if you, like many people, feel the need to avoid the risky scenarios of going out in public and being, you know, interfacing with other people who may be carrying the coronavirus, you could feel a sense of impatience. And I want to talk about patients today because it seems like a simple characteristic. Patients is a virtue, we've heard this kind of platitude, that if we seek patients that it's a virtuous effort, but patients is more than that. I want to talk about some of the kind of mechanics of patients. How does it work? And what is it related to in our lives? Let's talk about kind of the inverse for a moment, the impatience, this desire for things to be different. This is the source of so much frustration, anxiety, pain, anger, sadness, the desire for something that is currently happening to not be happening, or vice versa, something that's not happening to be happening, to change the current reality and the inability to do so in patients. But impatience also has this interesting aspect of time, or a delay. The idea that something is coming, that we have some kind of anticipation of a future event, and we wish that that future was nearer to us than it is presently. Similarly, the idea that the future event is unknown, that there's some future event and we wish that it wasn't in the future at all, we wish that it was now. This is interesting because it mirrors a lot of the other behaviors in our lives, and some of the things that we've talked about on this show as it relates to mindfulness and being present in the moment. The idea is that we want something that isn't available to us, we want to be able to control, for example, time. This is obviously not possible. We want something to be true that isn't true, this also is not possible. So this intertwining of impatience with our self-inflicted suffering is important to note, because if we were to flip around and look at patients, patience is not something that you can simply practice. You're not going to force yourself to be okay with your present reality. Patience is more of a response. It's a symptom, if you will, of a mindset. So think about patient people. What kinds of things do patient people practice? Well, they certainly practice mindfulness. They can reframe a situation and understand that the time that they have waiting is just as valuable as the time they have after the waiting. They can understand that being grateful is an important aspect of the present moment as well. Patient people are probably going to be grateful people. You can imagine that someone who is patient is likely cultivating that same sense of gratitude. And someone who is impatient, imagine trying to call the impatient person grateful as well. You can see how these things don't really mix very well, do they? So what exactly is patience? Why does the mechanics of patience actually work out? There's a lot of reasons why patience is important. One of those reasons is that understanding the restrictions that you don't really have control of or control over, patience, by the way, to be clear. Patience doesn't mean being okay with things that are slow. That's a really important factor here. Patience doesn't mean complacency. It doesn't mean accepting a sub-optimal situation. Patience doesn't mean going at a turtle's pace. There is a wrong mindset about patience that kind of cast it in a weak light. That impatient people are somehow more aligned with powerful positions, for example, that we're driving the clock. You can imagine this picture of the old school manager and their impatient they want things done yesterday. So patience is something different than this. It's the acceptance of things that we can't control as it relates especially to time. Now here's the interesting thing. Patient people and impatient people are likely to get the thing that they're longing after at about the same time. Even when impatient people change their behaviors in order to get something sooner. What does this mean? Well, let's look at some really simple examples. One of the most obvious ones or the most common ones is speeding. Mathematically speaking. This is for a variety of reasons. Once again, that are outside of your control. Speeding doesn't really save you time. Some of this is because traffic is moderated by lights and other traffic and that kind of thing. But you can look this up. Generally speaking, speeding doesn't save you much time at all. If it does save you time, it's probably much less than you think it does. So the person who is impatient is putting at risk their own life, the lives of others. They may also be putting themselves at risk for a speeding ticket, which would eliminate all of the benefit that they were going to gain theoretically from speeding anyway. The person who is not speeding, who's taking the drive at the speed limit that is prescribed is likely to get there at the same time or around the same time and with none of those increased risks. And this is a mental model that you can kind of spread out across many different things that speeding things up often incurs risk. You can imagine, for example, trying to, let's say that you are fairly inactive and you want to get into the gym and you get into the gym, you take things too fast. You're incurring the risk of an injury. So whatever your goals were from an athletic perspective, you're delaying those goals on a risk basis, at least you're delaying the likelihood of those goals. Instead of taking a lower risk approach and doing things a little bit slower or more patiently, then you otherwise would have. This is a common theme on this show as well. We say over and over that there's no silver bullets. Silver bullets are for impatient people and they don't work. They just don't exist. And so when you are looking for a silver bullet, you're very likely to make shortcuts that one way or another may become detrimental to you. Let's talk about another mechanic of patience and as this relates to other people, for example, being impatient has a lot of overlap with financial hardship and being patient has a lot of overlap with financial success. Now this isn't a one to one. There are certainly situations that are dire where money is needed in an emergency fashion. But for things like for example luxury purchases, if you are patient with those purchases, not only can you find a better prices, but you can also avoid taking out too much of you, you may be able to save a little bit more money, pay a little bit less on interest, etc. These are some really common principles and it's how the lending business is structured. The person who is aligning money is being patient with their payoff. They're willing to give up money for a period of time. And in the future, they receive a payoff. The person who is borrowing the money is maybe not necessarily maliciously, but they are being impatient or they're being less patient than the lender. Now I want to be very clear here, a lot of the reason why a lender might be able to be, you know, quote, more patient with this money is because that lender has a lot of disposable money, a lot of capital available so it doesn't really impact their life. Whereas the person who is borrowing may not have that disposable money available, they may not have a lot of capital. And so they need the loan to be able to do, you know, for example, buy a house. So I want to be very careful here. We're not trying to say that, you know, taking a mortgage is a sign of unhealthy impatience. There's no moral, you know, implication that we want to talk about here on that. Instead, we want to look at kind of the payoffs and the mechanics of patients because this is deeply ingrained in human nature. Another good example of this is if you're asking somebody for a commitment, let's say you're asking them for a 30 minute meeting. They are much more likely to give you a 30 minute meeting that is well into the future than they are to give you one very soon. You can practice this very simply. Ask people for a 30 minute meeting in the next three days and then ask people for a 30 minute meeting in a month from now. Most people who get invites that are that far out, they don't have a solidified calendar. Most people, most people don't have their calendars planned out that far. And so because they have very few barriers, they can't see that far out in time, they're more likely to say yes. So this is related to patients because you as the person who is requesting a commitment from another person, if you have patients to wait on that commitment, if you have patients to wait on the fulfillment of that commitment, that delay is going to pay you back. That is your payoff for being patient. You're going to get more commitments if you put it out into the future. The same kind of underlying psychological mechanics are at play with payment plans. People who are willing to buy something now and pay for it over the course of the next three months, that's the same concept. It's a delay. It's the person who is selling the thing being patient, willing to sell the item for a delay in the income. So what is my advice to you? My advice to you is, in any given situation where you are anticipating, or you're waiting on something to occur, when you are expecting something at some point in the future, whether it's fixed, a fixed point in the future or an indeterminate point in the future, cultivate gratitude for where you are today. Imagine the things that you are most grateful for in this part of the process, rather than imagining how things will be once you finally reach that point in time in the future. Think about what you are grateful for this point in time. Gratitude once again is kind of a foundational cornerstone of patience, and if you practice gratitude, patience will follow. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. This Friday refill of Developer Tea. We'll talk to you next week. Until then, enjoy your tea.