Tuesday, October 22, 2013
The Power of Patience
The world is moving at a frantic pace and the increase in speed is putting our crafts and careers in jeopardy. Younger generations grow up so accustomed to instantly-gratifying experiences that the capacity for patience is rapidly eroding from our society.
Mastering a craft seems to fly in the face of the quick-synapse lifestyles of most everyone born after 1980. In the hiring process, length of tenure is often seen as a measure of loyalty and stability. It certainly is, and it is also an excellent indicator of the candidate’s seriousness when it comes to refining their skills and developing their leadership qualities.
In Psychology Today’s “Ten Things Happy People Do Differently” the author cites “working toward meaningful life goals” as an important facet of a happy life. The word toward indicates that getting there takes time, endurance, perseverance.
If you esteem your life’s work – my culinary, F&B, hotelier, and innovation friends – then it’s time to live and preach patience. A career of impetuous decisions and short tenures can bring many ills. Let’s look at three attributes the impatient may never attain:
- Quality Relationships
- Significant Impact
Wisdom comes from experience. It comes from mastering a skill before moving on to the next. It is impossible to quickly master an important skill like timing fine service, making a sumptuous terrine, or consistently baking the perfect croissant. Pierre Zimmerman’s croissants are neither pastry nor bread, but silky, buttery, flaky, airy perfection.
Chef Zimmermann is a World Baking Champion and recognized Master Baker. He knows that the region and season and origin of the wheat that made his flour will cause different chemical reactions. He knows that one degree of difference in humidity while proofing will alter the croissant’s destiny. It’s not about cranking out a secret recipe. A master knows how to make adjustments along the way to maintain perfection despite adverse conditions.
One of the greatest rewards for your dedication is in the ability to properly train another person, and that is incredibly valuable. There is an outstanding example of mastery in the 2011 documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi. This is a must-see for everyone in a culinary, hospitality, or food-related profession.
The world is full of smart people, but the best leaders are wise. Wisdom comes from refining and perfecting even though it is repetitive and tedious, and from doing what needs to be done even when it’s uncomfortable. It comes from self-sacrifice and lack of sleep and risk-taking; from practicing for a certification practical, finishing your degree, or doing trade association work when everyone else is watching TV or going to the beach.
When you measure your time at a company in months instead of years, you don’t give yourself enough time to build strong long-term relationships. It’s going through several calendars with your team that deepens bonds: hectic holiday seasons at busy restaurants, wedding season for caterers, peak tourism times for hotels and resorts, back-to-back trade shows and conferences for manufacturers. Learning those cycles and pulling together through them creates an emotional attachment, and it’s what turns colleagues into life-long friends.
If you aspire to executive management, you need years of experience within several different disciplines to develop quality leadership skills. Chief executives who lack such experience are not well-rounded enough to lead leaders in departments as diverse as operations, accounting, innovation, marketing, sales, and administration. They don’t have a 360⁰ perspective, and they can ruin companies with one poor decision.
Most human resources and talent development executives concur that management employees don’t make significant contributions to a company until their third year. It takes one year to break the ice and a second year to become fully culturally integrated. If you’re job-hopping every 12 to 24 months, how can you ever truly make an impact on the people around you – your customers, staff, products or services?
A leader creates experiences and innovations that endure, and they give your work value. They affect everyone around you, and the ripple effect of such influence radiates far beyond the presently tangible. Think about transferring the knowledge of a mastered skill to an apprentice or trainee. You change that person’s life forever. What’s more, you also empowered them to change more peoples’ lives!
But before you can change lives you have to endure the mastery of skills. You have to realize that every activity in your life will not be exhilarating and mind-blowing. You must learn the patience and persistence of master craftspeople like Jiro Ono and Pierre Zimmermann.
It’s time to turn your phone off and focus on your profession for several uninterrupted hours. It’s alright. You’ll be OK. Facebook will still be there when you’re done, but you’ll be far less interested in Facebook and far more interested in growing wiser, building quality relationships, and making a real impact in the world.