At first sight, these words almost universally do not appeal. You never hear anyone speak of them without either praising themselves (or another) or damning themselves (or another) for the same. What are the words?
Practice, persistence, patience.
All of them are needed when you are wanting to make a behavioural change, in whatever way. As babies, we practice talking, sometimes for years before the words become understandable to adults. Persistence is part of this, as is patience. Whether the parents have these qualities in the same quantity as their child is debatable , but on the whole, they are qualities with which everyone is familiar with, albeit sometimes unconsciously.
If you are self-employed or have a small business, these qualities are some of the most essential. Without them, you are almost guaranteed to not succeed in achieving whatever it is you want to achieve. Particularly with adopting a different belief, or changing the words you use, you will find these crucial.
For example, if you have identified that you often think doom and gloom thoughts, such as “I can’t do it,” “It’s all to much,” “I just want to run away and hide,” or even fantasizing about going back to being an employee, then change is needed. And if you make a decision to change, then that very decision has meant that you will be calling on your capacity for practicing the new way of thinking. For example, saying to yourself “I might find it challenging, but I can do it,” “I can take it tiny bit by tiny bit” and “I am willing to stay here and find a way to be successful.”
Your capacity to persist in the practicing, and then to be patient whilst you make a change that may take some time to become embedded in your system, is a sign that you are committed and serious about what you do.
Let’s explore them one by one:
Human beings are born with an incredible ability to learn. Almost anything can be learnt. If you think you can’t make a change, or adopt a new way of thinking, or even pick up a new skill, then think again. When you learned to read, you had to practice, and slowly, slowly, as you practiced a little bit every day, you began to recognize shapes and figures, until they made sense as letters and then words, and finally sentences. With more and more practice you became able to read fluently.
So you have a talent for practice within you – it is simply a case of whether or not you choose to use this in different circumstances. You will know I am sure that when you make a conscious decision to gain knowledge of something new, that practicing is how you learn it. Regularly, and bit by bit, you become better and better at what you are learning.
This means using self-discipline (another not very sexy word) to continue with the practicing you are doing. In the case of this newsletter, although I wasn’t consciously learning to write good articles, by making a commitment to putting out a newsletter each week, I was inviting myself to practice the art of writing; and persisting in that commitment, no matter what the results.
Persistence means finding a new way to solve your challenge, when you already think you have exhausted all methods. It means unleashing your full creativity when the results you anticipated did not happen as you wished. It means holding your vision clearly before you, refusing to allow yourself to be distracted by the many twists and turns presented in your path.
This could be another word for self-love. You need patience in the business world, even in this day and age of instant technological solutions. Patience is needed in teaching yourself about social media methods, or learning a new software system that will ultimately make your life a lot easier, or being willing to let go of the old way of doing things to make way for the new.
Patience means going back yet again to the system you are trying to learn, with a soft heart and immense compassion, helping yourself to learn and grow, just as you would with a child. Patience means having faith that the path you are on is the right one for you at this time; and it means trusting that the outcome of the next stage of your journey will be for the good for all concerned.
Look back at all your work experience now. Just take a moment to do this. Identify where you practiced; where you persisted and were patient. Notice how you did these things, and under what circumstances. If you can’t find any examples in the world of work, expand it to include your whole life. Determine that you will unleash these qualities already inherent in you when you next want to make a change.