I am sure you have heard the saying “patience is a virtue”, and despite the fact that attention spans seem to be dwindling, if you still want to be successful, patience remains a critical skill to cultivate. In this day and age, we can get instant gratification with just a few clicks on our phone. We can have pretty much anything delivered within a very short time frame and get information in seconds. But this has led to people often forgetting that there is very rarely such a thing as overnight success. It takes time to build something substantial. Usain bolt for example only ran something like 115 seconds in Olympic finals to get his 9 gold medals, but for those two minutes he trained for 20 years. In this modern world, we seem to think that we can just run for 115 seconds without putting in the 20 years of work.

Delayed Gratification is an indicator of future success

Did you know that those that display patience are more successful than those who are not? Its true. There were a series of experiments done by Stanford University that support this. The experiments consisted of children being given a small treat such as a chocolate or biscuit. The children were given two options, they could eat it now, or if they could wait until the researcher comes back from a meeting, they would be given two treats instead of the one that they have. Naturally, some children could not wait and ate immediately, others waited. But what was fascinating is the disparity between what the two groups achieved later in life. Those who waited were much more successful than those who did not. This is because success takes time. Those who are not patient, would try for a short period and then give up, whereas those with patience would persist and eventually succeed.

Force yourself to wait

One of the easiest ways for you to begin to develop patience is to force yourself to wait. You should start out small and slowly build up to larger things. For example, if you are going to have a milkshake or Starbucks or something, force yourself to wait a few moments before you begin to consume it. If you are planning to go away for a weekend getaway, push it back a month. If you are going to buy yourself something on your credit card, wait until you can pay for it with cash savings instead of buying it on credit.

Go to an Art Gallery

There is an Art Historian at Harvard University called Jennifer Roberts who recommends going to look at one single piece of art for 3 hours. On the face of it, this seems insane, how could you look at one picture for 3 hours, but it’s a technique that has been shown to truly show the power of patience. By staring at a piece of Art for 3 hours, its amazing the amount of detail you pick up that you would not see in the usual 1-2 minutes most people spend looking at any particular picture. In order to truly pick up on the nuance of many works of Art, it takes hours to unpick all the small details. You will notice all of the hidden nuances and symbolism that the artist is trying to convey. But if you just start for a moment or two, you just think it is a very simple picture of a landscape or historical scene.

Read a classic book

Picking up a classic novel is also a great way to work on your patience. The classic works of Charles Dickens for example is incredibly long and written in a complex way. It is not the type of book you can skim read quickly. By reading some classic literature, you will need to concentrate for a prolonged period, and it could take you several weeks or more to get through just one book. In our Instagram centric world where video clips are less than 60 seconds, it is a great way to rebuild your attention span.

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