Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting Chip Espinoza when he gave a keynote speech at Welltower, where I work. Espinoza is the Academic Director of Organizational Psychology at Concordia University, a consultant for major corporations, including Microsoft, and the co-author of multiple books on Millennials. It took all of two seconds to figure out that he knows his stuff.
I like to consider myself a self-aware Millennial, so I reached out to Espinoza to get his perspective on challenges Millennials must overcome to break workplace stigmas and succeed. Although there are a few, one of the most pressing challenges is our lack of patience.
I immediately had flashbacks to advice from my grandparents: Patience is a virtue. All good things come to those who wait. Anything worth having is worth working hard for.
It was all starting to make sense.
In Espinoza's most recent book, Millennials Who Manage, he writes: "Waiting is not something that Millennials are accustomed to. They grew up in a world where they can get virtually anything from anywhere within 24 hours." (I couldn't help but think of iTunes, Amazon, Hot N' Ready Pizzas, and Netflix.)
Espinoza goes on to explain that this is also how we have experienced education.
Millennials have been able to control the speed and pace of our progress from an early age. Look at resources like Quora and Lynda.com. If we have a question or don't know something, no problem, Google it. Espinoza made an excellent point: We are the first generation that doesn't rely on others for information.
The problem: We move into the workplace and suddenly we no longer control the rate of our progress. Even worse, there is ambiguity surrounding the process.
So, how do you deal? Espinoza's research suggests these three pieces of advice:
- "Try to understand your manager's perspective." Put yourself in their shoes. Many of the reasons you are not progressing are due to lack of experience (it is not your fault). Experience takes time. Managers cannot generate new opportunities out of thin air.
- "Keep being persistent in your effort." It is going to take failure, you are going to have to climb mountains, and it is not going to be easy. Seek every opportunity to gain experience by asking for work. Be willing to raise your hand and put yourself in vulnerable situations. Lastly, always ask for feedback. With persistence and patience, nothing is impossible.
- "Consider the waiting period as a time for mastering your current responsibilities." There are always things that you can improve. In the interim, start practicing the behaviors and habits of the successful. Strong leaders will tell you that they were studying the craft long before they became managers.
I know what you are thinking: Easier said than done, right? These are big "asks"--particularly for the impatient. To help, here are four extra tips on strategies you can adopt to keep impatience in check.
WARNING: If left unmanaged, impatience will magnify problems, exaggerate anxieties, and amplify fears. If you can practice patience, you can subdue your most common enemy--yourself.
1. Exercise healthy habits
Eating healthier and exercising will help too. Both are proven to improve our moods and therefore create a margin for patience.
Also, you would be surprised at how much stress you can alleviate if you just take a few minutes to get organized. It is amazing how running a little late or not getting enough accomplished can throw off the whole rest of your day.
2. Put things in perspective
This one situation is only a brief blip along your lifeline. Don't make it bigger than it is. Practice mindfulness and put disappointment into perspective.
"Tough times do not last, tough people do." --Gregory Peck
3. Understand the root cause
There are often underlying issues driving our impatience (e.g., pride, inferiority complexes, rejections, and the need to be in control).
"A moment of patience, when dealing with these issues, can save you a thousand moments of regret." --Imam Ali
You have to recognize what's at the root of your impatience and address it. Otherwise, these issues will gain the power to destroy the rest of your experiences.
4. Manage your emotions
Don't twist things. Everyone is not out to get you. You determine the effects situations have on your patience. Harboring resentment only prevents you from experiencing peace.
"Seek first to understand and then to be understood." --Stephen Covey