Hurry Up and Wait

Let’s be honest: have you ever repeatedly pushed an elevator button magically expecting that the elevator will arrive faster?

All of us have done this. This week I observed several examples of this that reminded me how often people get stressed over things they have no control over. One happened on the subway platform when a passenger got extremely upset when the oncoming train wasn’t his line.

Another was observing someone on the phone (in a public area) who was having an animated conversation with a customer service rep that was going nowhere because he disagreed with the rep’s comments.

Both reminded me of the expression, “hurry up and wait.” We have become creatures of instant gratification and when we don’t receive it, many have difficulties coping.

The point isn’t about patience being a virtue. Instead, it’s about how we react to things that are out of our control. When we do this, we feel that we must do something.

When this happens in the workplace, leaders immediately benefit by focusing on what they have control over rather than non-productive reactions. This requires discipline in having control over how you react to external events.

When you waste countless hours reacting, your productivity decreases and your frustration builds. On the other hand, people who moderate their reactions to things outside of their control have an advantage.

Keep this in mind the next time you face something out of your control. This will be a good opportunity to practice and build up your self-regulation.

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.”
– Aristotle

Header image by Hanna Auramenka/

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