Patience is Overrated

Patience is overrated.

This is not something you’ll hear often. But it is one of my favorite pieces of advice.

This quote was something that was said by my boss’s boss from years ago. He dispensed this nugget of truth during a company luncheon. The lunch was meant to be an informal forum, designed to give, newbie consultants, including myself, some Q&A time with senior executives. In response to a question posted by a fellow consultant about career progression, another VP had so shrewdly asked for all of us junior consultants to be patient about climbing the corporate ladder during an economic downturn. My boss’s boss rebutted by respectfully disagreeing, stating that he believed patience is overrated.

Patience IS overrated. It really stuck with me. The more I internalized the advice, the more I realized that the old adages “patience is a virtue” or “good things come to those who wait” were just sayings your mom told you to keep you from eating that cookie before dinner.

I left that corporate consulting job a few months later to get into product management with a startup. This was the most important career decision I have made.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing that patience isn’t important, but it is overrated. After all, our ability to make the right judgement to delay gratification and avoid rash action is one of the things that sets us apart from animals. However, more often than not, you have more to lose than you have to gain for being patient. While timing is everything, hardly anyone regrets doing something too early, especially compared to the dime-a-dozen situations where something was done “too little, too late.”

Whatever justification you may have to wait until a certain arbitrary milestone before making your next big move, like “I want to work here 2 years before I leave” or “I want to wait until my lease is up before moving to NYC”, think long and hard about your opportunity cost and know that you may be doing yourself a disservice by being patient.

TL;DR: carpe diem motha f*ckas. And don’t forget to eat those cookies before dinner.