"…just a little patience, yeah" the song sounds fresh, in my mind, as it did in 1988 when I was a young 9 years old. I have rocked out to this power ballad my entire life, yet realized some years ago that Axl never told me how to have patience. I figured a few techniques out that I am going to share with you.
I found that my key (it may or may not be yours), to having more patience, was to pay attention to things that I would otherwise dismiss or find irritating. I developed my first technique when my children were very young. It likely won't surprise any of you that children, around the age of four or five, begin asking a million questions…and follow-up questions. I found myself answering questions such as "How did crocodiles survive when the meteor hit the Earth?", "Why do horses sleep standing up?", and "Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?"
It is easy to become irritated by a child's incessant (and relentless) questions. However, I viewed it as a growth opportunity. I figured that if I could successfully answer all of my children's questions until they understood, and their questions stopped, that I could teach anyone anything. Teaching has always been my calling and this technique taught me to have the patience to answer all of my student's questions, to reconciliation, without the presupposition that they 'knew what I knew'.
Allow someone to cut in front of you while driving. Do this daily. I always try to let the person who has done something that does not merit a 'cutting in' to cut in, like the driver who speeds down the right lane knowing that it will end. We all hate that person, right? Well, consider that you don't know precisely why the person did it. I did this once while rushing my son to the hospital. He was in the baby seat, in the back of my Ford Explorer, so nobody could see him nor did they know why I sought to cut-in. I received numerous 'freedom of action' gestures, yet almost immediately a car let me in and gave me a 'hello' wave. This has always stuck with me.
I now pay this forward. I am sure that the majority of drivers don't merit cutting-in, yet I error on the side of my experience. I have found that practicing this, daily, has resulted in me being an overall more patient driver.
I think that we all can agree that patience is somewhat lacking in our current society and we could use more of it. Finally, try to identify a historical figure that did not have a tremendous amount of patience; you will be hard-pressed to do so. Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. achieved their goals through patience; who are you going to inspire with yours?
About the author:
Ben Straight holds the rank of Professor at National American University and has been teaching on-site and online for ten years. He has taught 62 different classes spanning 7 academic disciplines. He owns a small law practice, Straight Law Offices, and hosts the Podcast Tampa Professor (available on iTunes and SoundCloud).