Patience Is A Virtue And Perfection Is An Unattainable Goal

“Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace.”  – Victor Hugo.

One of the most asked questions of any candidate in a job interview is which of your personality traits that you are most proud of and which that you would like to improve upon?  For years the most popular response, and one that I have used more often than not is that “being a perfectionist I always strive for the best that I can be for my employer while the trait that I need to improve on is the lack of patience that periodically I can display.”

With age, experience and maturity one realizes that perfection is unattainable in our lifetime and that you can be proud of what you produce despite the fact that it probably could always be better.  With the demands placed upon all of us, a timely and appropriate end-product is very acceptable when it is quite obvious that next in line is another demand that you must respond to right now!  It was always my goal to create a perfect result but unfortunately that perfection always provided stress, anxiety and disappointment along the way.  Acceptability has become my new mantra and it appears to be the right approach for most people who are aware of the never-ending demands that are placed upon them in today’s society.

Patience is another personality trait that is a constant in employment interviews.  I must admit that for too many years my pet answer was that patience is a virtue and that it was an attribute that never found a home with me.  I wore the badge of honor thinking that others were just like me; that patience was a sign of weakness and that if you were to achieve much in this world that you must demand results now and not later.

Maybe it is because I have lived outside a metropolitan community these last few years or maybe it is because age has a knack of slowing you down, but I have come to the realization that everything doesn’t have to be achieved in a speedy context and that the job doesn’t get done any faster by standing over the person (for image purposes only) who is doing the job.

I remember the first day or two that I lived in the country and came upon a stop sign.  Of course I thought the car in front of me was too slow to move into the intersection and thus I beeped my horn.  I wasn’t surprised that the individual in the car in front of me raised his hand in response but I was taken aback when I noticed that what was displayed was the full hand, as in a wave of hello rather than a middle finger raised in anger!

We are never too old to learn and if I have learned anything over the years is that the best manager is one that can roll with the punches, be flexible when flexibility is demanded and never expect more from others than what you expect from yourself.  Perfection is a lofty goal and a goal that we should all strive for, but we shouldn’t stop the world just because we haven’t achieved such on every project.

The long line of tasks that need to be accomplished is forming right behind you and before you take two years to complete that perfect job, just think about everything else that needs to be accomplished right now.  With fewer hands to complete the task and what seems to be more demands placed upon all of us, maybe acceptability is the perfection of our current times.

And, oh by the way, I would advocate you finding a higher patience quotient as well,  if you are going to survive in today’s economy.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” – Saint Augustine.

Dan Borschke is  a Certified Association Executive (CAE) who has been a CEO for 3 distinct trade associations in his career.  He is one of only 230 Association Executives worldwide who has been granted the prestigious designation of Fellow (FASAE) by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) since 1986.  He currently is between positions and has taken the opportunity to author more than 75,000 words or 125 blog postings on the topics of job search, career transition and association management.

Copyright:  MMXI.  Reprint of this article is permitted if the above paragraph is included.

Patience According to Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Job searches can be lengthy and monotonous and unfortunately those not prepared for the process can find it demoralizing, depressing and sometimes debilitating.  It is obviously top of mind for the job seeker but life does go on for your friends, family and contacts and it can be very bewildering for the individual going through this effort wondering why at times it has become so very quiet around the home office?

In a recent discussion with a friend, who is also an executive search professional, she reminded me of something that I have long known but hoped beyond hope that this time would not come to pass; “for every $10 thousand dollars of salary it takes a month to find just the right job.”

One of my heroes, American Poet and Author Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it all into perspective, “patience and fortitude conquer all things.”  I know that patience is a virtue but at times it can certainly be a vice.  For those in job search mode you want results and you want results now.  Why isn’t the phone ringing?  Why aren’t they knocking down the door once they heard that you are available?  Why don’t they respond to e-mails?

Obviously life isn’t always accommodating, what did Mom always say – “what’s worth doing is worth doing right.”  Of course why can’t we accomplish it quickly with the results that I know will ultimately come to pass anyway?

A job search can drive even the sanest of individuals wacky.  It is very much like the military where you hurry up and wait.  Obviously you are on other people’s schedules and though you are ready to pounce, if the company or recruiter is not in sync with your immediate time frame, it can be very dispiriting.

You must keep in mind that even if everything falls into place beautifully, and that rarely happens; an executive search can take 4 months or longer – from start to finish.  When you have postings and interviews and more interviews and then finally more inteviews before negotiating terms –  this process can seem like turning a freighter around in the middle of the ocean – real slow!

There is also another issue where patience should be up front and center – you shouldn’t always accept the first offer.  I know it sounds like heresy to those who are looking for work but take it from those who have been so anxious to find a new home that they are willing to go to the dance with anyone who shows any interest – sometimes you need to slow down and think it over.

There are too many horror stories of individuals who settled for the first employment offer because they were either “desperate” or wanted to show the world that yes that they once again can be a productive and effective cog of society.   They just couldn’t  see that such a job just wasn’t right for them and that with a poor choice that they could be back in a job search sooner than later.

You never want to be placed in the desperate mode.  Obviously you have bills to pay and your self-confidence can be waning but it is imperative to seriously analyze any and every offer made to you.  It is nice to know that there is an employer out there that finds you acceptable, but again there are too many horror stories of job seekers taking the first job offer made to them in haste.

Remember, in many cases you might be spending more time in your new job than with your family.  Take your time and choose wisely.  Here are a few issues to consider:

*  Is there an immediate connection with your new employer or do you have some concerns?

*  Are you happy with the compensation package or are you settling?

*  Is the focus of the job one you have a burning interest in or one that you hope to eventually enjoy?

*  Are the goals and expectations of you and your capabilities realistic or are you bound to fail?

*  Is there a future for you and your career at this job or is this just a temporary stopping point?

*  If you take this job will you continue to look for a better position?

If you can comfortably and honestly answer all these questions, then you have a basis to either accept the job offer or reluctantly thank the individual for the opportunity and move on.  Of course never burn your bridges because this individual might, sometime in the future be another contact that you can depend on.

A job search was never intended for wimps.  It is a difficult process that certainly can be frustrating at times.  Always keep the end goal in mind and ultimately with the right decision you might not have to go through this again all too soon. 

As Leo Tolstoy of War and Peace fame once said: “the two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”  We just hope that our job search isn’t as lengthy as one of Tolstoy’s novels or our patience will definitely be tested.

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