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In our fast-paced world, the thought of waiting is often greeted with anathema. Lightening speed is the order of the day. People who aren’t ‘quick’ are seen as dullards, less intelligent. Situations that linger cause us annoyance. Delay is seen as intolerable.

Essentially, we have lost sight of the enormous benefits of waiting – such as gaining perspective, allowing things to process and mature, seeing better options present themselves. Because we refuse to wait we often – in the look back – discover that we accepted rhinestones when diamonds were just moments away.

I look forward to hearing this month’s feature story – The Significant SATISFACTIONS of Waiting – will help you more fully appreciate those times of waiting – whether voluntary or not – in the knowledge that they can, ultimately, lead to the accomplishment of your own best interests.


Recent quotes from Coach Joyce K. Reynolds have appeared in The Wall Street Journal; USA Today;; Chicago Tribune; American Airlines Magazine, The American Way; Microsoft's; Cosmopolitan; Working Mother Magazine; Learning/Discovery Channel/;



Impatience and the desire for instant gratification are hallmarks of today's culture. In their midst, the countless benefits of waiting are overshadowed. In thinking only of our immediate needs, we blind ourselves to the price tag of impatience. In not waiting, we ignore the potential of the future and become prey to ingratitude or a host of other problems including the committing of grave errors. On the other hand, the ability to wait with discernment demonstrates competence rather than compulsion. Ambition instead of obsession. Support of others in place of annoyance or abuse. Instead of racing to some unwitting destiny, we gain effectiveness with the ability to wait and function better with a more relaxed mental attitude.

There are countless other satisfactions that materialize when we decide to wait. Here are just a few ways we can earn them:

1. Pause for Thought.
Waiting does not require hours. It can mean just minutes. Even seconds. But sufficient time to more effectively respond to life and its varying challenges. When we pause, we can stop ourselves from speaking out of anger or upset. We can also take time to prepare and rehearse before confronting potentially difficult communications. The opportunity arises for us to calm our nerves and manage our feelings. Slowing things down - stretching the time a bit - will often allow for new insights to manifest, then solidify. When we feel the most rushed or anxious, it is even more important for us to take a 'breather' and convert our hurried thinking to calm. Barbara Johnson compressed the thought, "Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears."

2. Experience the Feelings.
Waiting also provides the opportunity to fully explore our feelings and engage our intuition. Attention to our moods and responses allows us to become more quickly aware of those times that might require the discipline of waiting. When uncomfortable feelings arise and we begin to feel a 'need' - born out of fear or anxiety - to take action, we can identify this as an occasion when waiting might be wisest. That not waiting might disrupt an otherwise positive outcome. Our feelings can serve as powerful indicators and guides that will help us discern the wisdom of waiting versus taking precipitous action.

3. Appreciate the Process.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, 'Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.' In fact, the very next step might be to await the outcome of the first. The ability to do so signifies a growing up as it requires discipline and maturity. Allowing the process to unfold invites greater self-confidence and clarity - making it altogether worth the wait. Each moment we allow ourselves to slow down - especially when we have to resist the urge to do otherwise - adds to our self-esteem and our quality of life. The rewards in terms of feeling in sync with the world, in accord with the rhythms of life are unequalled. When employed as a strategy, a regular and deliberate practice in our daily lives, waiting can provide relief from stress - allowing us to feel more refreshed and centered, ready to face whatever difficulties a day might bring.

4. Allow Meaning to Emerge.
Author Joseph Campbell said, "You must have a room, and a certain hour of the day, where you do not know what is in the morning paper. A place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might become. At first you may think nothing is happening. But if you have a sacred space and take advantage of it and use it every day, something magical will happen." The magic is in the emergence of our higher selves. The simple act of sitting quietly for extended periods of time invites extraordinary self-acquaintance. Those who know it as mediation also recognize it as the ultimate in 'waiting.'

5. Value Each Moment.
We gift ourselves incredible quality of life when we are willing to appreciate every single moment no matter what it holds. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests, "When we see a red light or a stop sign, we can smile at it and thank it, because it is helping us return to the present moment. The red light is a bell of mindfulness. We may have thought of it as an enemy, preventing us from achieving our goal. But now we know the red light is our friend, helping us resist rushing and calling us to return to the present moment where we can meet with life, joy and peace."

6. Avoid the Costs of Impatience
Restlessness and impatience often spawn mistakes. For example, according to a study done by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the annual cost of running red lights - medical bills, car repairs, fines, et al - is $7 billion. All that for an average of 50 seconds saved. Clearly we can see that, in some instances, refusing to wait carries a high price. Likewise, the desire for shortcuts can rob us of learning and full life experience. Impatience ruins not only our outlook and appreciation for people but can be costly in terms of hasty decisions that carry a high price tag or result in an unfortunate turn of events. Impatience can steal our joy and leave us feeling upset and pressured. It accounts for a great deal of stress and, can, ultimately, cost us the opportunity to feel comfortable and fulfilled. Indeed, it can even be destructive to our spirit. "The fast pace of our lives makes it difficult for us to find grace in the present moment, and when the simple gifts at our fingertips cease to nourish us, we have a tendency to crave the sensational," concludes Macrina Wiederkehr.

7. Experience the Power.
Juxtaposing the great costs that can result from impatient communications are the significant rewards that arise from tolerantly waiting to respond or speak. In fact, great power emanates from this 'action' of waiting. It is found in the silence. In particular, during difficult, delicate or contentious conversations or negotiations, the long pause is a critical tool in achieving one's aims. Gurumayi Chidvilasananda said, "Silence is not a passive energy. It throbs with great fierceness. Silence is a living, breathing power." If we do not hurry to fill up the void, others, in their impatience, are likely to be pressured to speak in haste and, thus, leave us with the advantage.

8. Don't Hurry Love.
The newest phenomenon to hit the dating world is, of all things, speed dating. The promise is a "fun and efficient way for busy single professionals to meet. You'll meet up to a dozen other people in your age and interest group through a series of face-to-face six minute 'pre-dates' in a private area at a local upscale bar or restaurant. Twelve 'dates' in 1 night...and sometimes more! There's no awkwardness, no pressure, no embarrassment and no games...just great fun!" Wow. Hard to imagine a less appealing way to find the love of your life. Actually, Diana and the Supremes got it right way back in '67 - 'No, love, love don't come easy. But I keep on waiting. Anticipating for that soft voice to talk to me at night. For some tender arms to hold me tight. I keep waiting. I keep on waiting. It ain't easy. But mama said: You can't hurry love. No, you just have to wait. She said to trust, give it time. No matter how long it takes.' Sometimes mamas do know best.

9. Enjoy the Wait.
Instead of gnashing our teeth and twitching impatiently in the movie ticket line or at the grocery check-out, we can shift our thinking and have a little fun. With a bit of willingness, we can look around, enter into a more resourceful and creative state of mind and see what amusements are to be had. Share a moment of friendliness with the person waiting behind us. Gift ourselves a good laugh as we scan the Enquirer headlines. Choose a new flavor of gum. The reward of not wasting one single moment - even when waiting - is life well-lived.

10. Let Life Evolve.
"Waiting may be the greatest teacher and trainer in godliness, maturity, and genuine spirituality most of us ever encounter," said Richard Hendrix. When we make a conscious choice to focus on and calmly accomplish those things that are rightfully in front of us - absent of haste or angst - our lives unfold and evolve productively. We can enjoyably bring our consciousness into the moment allowing us to live from a place of awareness and grace. When the mind seems ready to send us off on a wild, undisciplined chase to get things done, we can, instead, gently bring ourselves back to the present. We can resume a grateful attitude knowing that we are gifting ourselves the promise, hope and rewards that exist in our moment-to-moment evolution.



Waiting: Can doing nothing get you everything?
Robert Epstein*

I just retuned from giving lectures in Japan, where I was reminded how much my behavior is constrained by cultural practices. In the U.S. we rush through everything, even our conversations. A gap in a conversation makes the skin crawl; we feel compelled to fill it immediately, even if we can think of only something trivial to say, like what happened last night on the Seinfeld rerun or the Survivor show.

In Japan, a gap in a conversation is no big deal. The Japanese even claim to be able to "communicate in silence." Imagine sitting with a friend in a restaurant, occasionally locking eyes, occasionally looking away, never saying a word, but somehow sharing thoughts and feelings. Sounds eerie, yes? But that's because our culture forbids the practice. Face it, we sometimes can't shut up long enough to eat.

The non-behavior called "waiting" can have enormous benefits in a number of domains. Weight Watchers teaches, for example, that waiting in between spoonfuls lowers calorie consumption. Classroom studies have shown that superior teachers wait a while before answering their own questions; if a teacher routinely fails to wait for answers, students soon learn not to bother to try to provide them.

For decades parents and professionals have argued about how to respond to a crying child. Soothing the child might reinforce crying, we're told, but ignoring the child might increase the child's distress. The solution is to use a technique I call "waiting for a pause." Wait for a brief gap in the crying and then soothe saying, "Sweetie, I love it when you calm down. How can I help you?" That way you're providing love and support, but you're also teaching the rudiments of self-control.

In my laboratory research, I've learned about the enormous benefits waiting has for creativity. When people are struggling to solve a problem, the more time they have, the more creative they become. Even long periods of inactivity are eventually followed by breakthroughs. The main challenge is to teach people to relax while "nothing" seems to be happening.

Waiting is especially important in the dance of love, where we're all too often inclined to step on toes. We want immediate result: love at first sight, chemistry on the first date or at least a feeling of "rightness" by the second. A bad month or even a bad week is often enough to kill a marriage; we've lost the art of waiting a few years until things get better, which they almost inevitably do. While it's overly optimistic to believe that waiting brings "all things," failing to wait costs us dearly.

* Robert Epstein, Ph.D., is editor in chief of Psychology Today, University Research Professor at Alliant International University and Director Emeritus of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.



Defense Avertive Powers, The Yew Tree Rune
The Book of Runes, Ralph Blum

As we are tested we find the power to avert blockage and defeat. At the same time, we develop in ourselves an aversion to the conduct that creates stress in our lives.

If there appears to be an obstacle in your path, remember that even a delay may prove beneficial. Do not be overly eager to press forward, for this is not a situation in which you can make your influence felt. Patience is the counsel Eihwaz offers: nothing hectic, no acting needy, or lusting after a desired outcome. This Rune speaks to the difficulties that arise at the beginning of new life. Often it announces a time of waiting – for a spring to fill up with water, for fruit to ripen on the bough.

Perseverance and foresight are called for here. The ability to foresee consequences before you act is a mark of the profound person. Avert anticipated difficulties through right action, this Rune is saying. For even more than we are doers, we are deciders. And once the decision is clear, the doing becomes effortless.

Receiving the Rune Eihwaz, you are put on notice that, through inconvenience and discomfort, growth is promoted. This may well be a trying time; certainly it is a meaningful one. As the wood of the yew tree becomes the bow of the Spiritual Warrior, so the obstacle on your path can become the gateway to a new life unfolding.

Set your house in order, tend to business, be clear, and wait on the Will of Heaven.



I was brought into my organization to replace my boss who was being transferred to another division. It has now become clear that this move was being forced on him and he is going to do whatever possible to stay in power which means undermining me. I've been trying to work within this framework for almost a year in the hope that things would evolve as originally planned. I'm totally bored with my current position can't stand this waiting game. Help!


On occasion, a company will hire an overqualified person for a position in anticipation of moving that person ahead quickly or with the intention of grooming the individual for the next slot, as in your case. Unfortunately, these plans often fail to take into account cross-purposes and the personalities involved. The result, at best, is boredom for the overqualified. At worst, the environment is contaminated by tension, heightened competition, even sabotage. That in mind, you’ll want to identify where on that scale of possibilities your situation truly falls. The next challenge is to create a list of pros and cons that will help you determine whether or not this situation is worth the wait.

Start the evaluation process by reviewing exactly what guarantees you were made – on paper – as to when and how this new position would be awarded to you. Realistically, if there was no such written agreement, you may find yourself at the mercy of a power play or survival politics. If this is the case, the truth is that you may have created your own waiting game and are now left to face an uncertain future with this company.

Before making that decision, take your time and carefully do your best to impartially examine not only your situation but the big picture. If the boss you are supposed to replace is waiting for someone above him to move so he can be relocated, you might be able to safely inquire about the expected timetable as it affects you. If you determine that your boss is basically trying to avoid what he sees as being eased out, you will have to decide whether or not you have the ability to skillfully manage such a highly-charged, political transition. That will, of course, hinge on how much you want the job, what you think needs to be done to finally capture it and if you are ethically able to execute to that result. It will help if commit to not deciding anything prematurely or with haste. In other words, allocate sufficient time to clearly understand all the elements involved and make a good decision accordingly.

Meanwhile, if your current position is not holding your interest and you are solely focused on the next potential job, you are missing out on a challenging and productive day-to-day life. Instead, make better use of your ‘waiting time’ by creating your own projects, mentoring a junior staffer or being productive in other positive and notable way.

Finally, if you become convinced that your promotion is moving out of sight instead of closer to happening, it’s probably time to begin planning your exit strategy.


©2002 by Joyce K. Reynolds. Duplication with credits only please. Click here for easy access to all books referenced. For complimentary 20-minute Coaching session e-mail or visit Click here to send this newsletter to a colleague. Executive Business Coach on Click here to Unsubscribe. Newsletter maintained by Web Factum, LLC.