Okay, I’m taking a poll. Raise your hand if you scratch bug bites. Come on, ‘fess up. Maybe you don’t do it all the time, but at least every once in awhile you find your nails where that mosquito used to be. Doesn’t it feel great while you’re scratching? How about two minutes later? Not as good? Hmmm…
It’s hard not to mess with things that make us uncomfortable
When things aren’t moving fast enough or making us feel good enough, we all have the urge to pick, to go against both conventional wisdom and our own best instincts. This goes for bug bites, yes, but also fitness programs, relationships and waiting – like when you’re waiting for a proposal to be accepted so you can get to work. It’s a natural human instinct to want to intervene when things aren’t moving along at the clip we desire. However, it’s not always a good idea.
I like the Chinese proverb that states, “One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” My advanced editing prof in film school had that on his marker board; I wrote it on the cover of my spiral notebook. We were a bunch of ambitious youngsters eager to take our place at the table in the exciting world of cinema, and the quote was his way of reminding us to take our time. Back in those days, we cut film. With a blade. One careless cut into the live area of a frame could ruin an otherwise great sequence, and in those days there wasn’t a way to get it back. Needless to say, impatience was a live enemy.
Not all situations have such obviously draconian consequences, a lack of patience can still potentially do damage. I’ve got a prospect that’s a municipal utility in Iowa. They’ve never had a website separate from the city’s, and the time has finally come. They’re integrating a payment and customer account gateway – which makes sense to do in the digital age.
I’m chomping at the bit to get going. They’re really jazzed, which makes me excited, and this will be the first sophisticated integration I’ve done on my own. I’ve already spoken with the development team at the vendor that’s providing the technology and I feel confident I’ll do it right. When the project is done, I’ll have this in my portfolio, which will open doors for projects I couldn’t even bid on previously. Plus, you know, end-of-year cash injection. Can I get an amen?
The waiting is the hardest part
The client loved my proposal and we zoomed right to presumptive language during my presentation. Then almost a week went by. The second time I followed up, I received a polite but clearly articulated response indicating that they couldn’t move forward until after their board meeting – in a month. They said they would be in touch a few days before, to get last-minute questions answered in advance. The not-so-subtle subtext was, “don’t keep bugging us in the meantime, we can’t move forward until this other thing happens.”
I get it. Normally, I would just set myself a reminder and move on. But this is an exciting project and a month feels like a long time to wait. At least in my world of tiny clients it is; they tend to move quickly and definitively. It’s one of my favorite parts of working with small organizations. Plus, it’s been my experience that those long gaps can cool the fires of urgency, maybe spark the idea to request other proposals (possibly using mine as the basis for comparison) and otherwise threaten the close.
I’m a pro. I can sit tight, although I’m being honest when I say that there are easier things – at least for me – than waiting.
I also like this one from Bruce Lee. “Patience is not passive, on the contrary it is concentrated strength.”
Help me, Bruce. Lend me just an ounce of your badass patience. Seriously. Any time you’re ready…
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Who is she?
I'm Jon Anne Willow, owner of Crystal Clear Communications, LLC and long-time, self-styled cowgirl. You can learn a little more about me here.