“All you keep telling me is that you need more time.” The executive on the other end of the phone said exasperatedly. I paused a moment before responding. “I know it’s not what you want to hear. But it does take time to build momentum. Our KPIs are starting to see trends upwards; we need to stick with this.”
The above wasn’t a one-time conversation. It’s actually happened several times throughout my career. And I get why.
We all are running short of time. And time is money when it comes to business. But at what point do we also say patience is a virtue, and we’re really in this for the marathon, not the race. I know that mindset can be difficult in a world where everything seems immediate (and that’s what we have come to expect).
Perhaps you took all of the “right” steps to get to where you are today. You did the research, built a strategy, tested out variations, you have the KPIs you’re going to monitor…or maybe you did none of that and just went for it.
Either way, here is where I believe patience and persistence have to come in.
Coming from someone who isn’t the most patient, I fully understand the need to start seeing things in motion quickly. I’ve been in the hot seat before with an executive, like mentioned above, where things weren’t moving fast enough, my ass was on the line, and it was better just to pivot to something else instead of steadfast on the current route. I’ve also been the leader that wanted results quickly, didn’t see them, and asked my team for a pivot.
I’ve been right in some of those scenarios, and others I have not. Here is where I think we all need to give ourselves, our team(s), our vendor(s) a bit of patience to work things out. While this isn’t the case in every situation, there are times you need to pivot and do so quickly. Most of the time, we really just need to stop and think through:
WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE, AND WHAT DOES THE PATH TO SUCCESS LOOK LIKE?
The second part of that question is vital as what we think means success could take a lot of time to pan out. Think of it as baking a cake. We know we want a delicious fluffy cake at the end of our baking adventure. Still, several successes have to happen along our baking path: the ingredients need to be readily available (and not expired), the batter must come together to the right consistency, the baking process must complete fully, the icing must be made of the right balance of butter and powdered sugar, the cake must cool completely before icing….all of those steps are like small KPIs moving in the right direction. Identify areas along the way that would mean you’re moving towards your bigger goals.
HAVE YOU ASKED ALL OF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS, OR ARE YOU MAKING ASSUMPTIONS?
Are you taking the time to gather the information needed to make a well-informed decision before stopping or pivoting. Just because you are not seeing sales or leads right away doesn’t mean the pieces in place are doing what they should, and now you just need more time. Before you assume you’re right, take a moment to think through any questions you haven’t asked.
IS YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE GETTING IN THE WAY?
Perhaps you own your own business, or maybe you run a team at a company, or you’re responsible for an entire line of business…whichever it is, I understand the pressure can get high, and the patience threshold can get low, even more so when you feel like your neck is on the line.
Here is where I think leaders have the hardest part of playing into patience. Most of us like to see movement and results. We hate waiting for things to start rolling, and we immediately want to know how things are going (or maybe that’s just me?). If it comes to your own business, that may ring even louder when the buck literally stops with you.
Before you pull the plug on the next idea, campaign, product, service, initiative, or tactic because you’re not seeing X coming in fast enough, take the time to step back and fully see it from all perspectives. Perhaps positive results are happening, but not in the tunnel vision metric you are focused on. Perhaps things are unfolding, but you can only see what’s happening if you actually take the time to evaluate from several angles.
Check your patience. Check your perspective and dig deeper into perseverance. Don’t give up too soon. You may pull the plug before things start to take off.