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HomeBusiness StrategiesSuccess through Persistent Patience and Strategic Slowness

Success through Persistent Patience and Strategic Slowness

It’s the beginning of a new year. And our thoughts are on evaluating accomplishments and planning and prioritizing for what’s to come, to improve where needed and stay on track to get things done. My company is on the cusp of going to market with a product the industry has been waiting for and has been busy with a few other pretty fantastic opportunities that are in the works. Like you, staying on track and getting things done is an imperative, but we don’t want to confuse getting things done with getting the right things done in our quest to stay on track.

Easy to say, right? But how do we make it happen?

So here’s an interesting twist. How about we all consider being “strategically slow” and “patiently persistent.”

Author Greg McKeown once tweeted: “Patient persistence is a form of artistic genius.” He also says, “Start small… and celebrate”. Making progress and getting things done is much better than perfect thinking. What most of us need is to do small and simple things over a longer period of time.” and “It’s plain consistency rather than difficulty per se that produces great results.”

So persistence, most of us would agree, plays an important role in achieving goals. But patience? I’m not certain I was onboard when I first heard McKeown’s claim.
Most of us can be patient for a period of time. Patience is “the ability to endure difficult circumstances” and may involve “perseverance in the face of delay; tolerance of provocation …; forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties; or being able to wait for a long time without getting irritated …” (according to Wikipedia).

But each of us has a different tolerance for “delays” and definition of acceptable “times” or “terms.” Impatience is prevalent and it’s about expectations.

Some blame personality traits. Some blame technology that evolves to constantly stimulate, reward, and operate more quickly and efficiently. A 2012 study of tens of millions of users watching videos on the internet showed users who connect at faster speeds are less patient than their counterparts at slower speeds.

Whatever its origin, impatience can cause increased stress leading to mental and physical issues and motivate people to act impulsively, leading to negative consequences. Less patient people engage in riskier behavior, which leads to things like lower credit scores and higher default rates (according to a 2007 study by the Research Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision-Making) and poor decisions of an even more critical nature.

Organizational Psychologist, Stanford University faculty and New York Times bestselling author Robert Sutton says, “Strategic slowness will be the key to success for innovative leaders and companies in the coming year.” He cites many recent “rash and failed decisions” around companies such as OpenAI, FTX, X (the former Twitter), and Theranos. He says these failures were fueled by a “hurry sickness” that will “finally convince investors and leaders that they need to become more adept at hitting the brakes.”

Sutton says, “Knowing when and how to slow down and fix things is the path to enduring financial success, building healthy workplaces, and staying out of jail, too.”

What top four actions might an organization on its way to success slow down and patiently take in 2024? My recommendation:

1. Reconsider what is essential for today and prioritize getting the right things done
2. Reassess commitments; “measure twice” and analyze outcomes to ensure the expectations equal the ability to deliver
3. Evaluate team structures and align with the most important priorities
4. Look closely at your leadership structure and consider, regardless of title, if all have the opportunity to lead

So risk of jail aside, what actions might you consider?

Tom Allanson
Tom Allanson
Tom Allanson is CEO of defiSolutions. With an open-door attitude and client-first enthusiasm, Allanson motivates and empowers team members to deliver excellence today while innovating for tomorrow. He has more than 25 years of executive leadership experience in fintech and lending and has consistently demonstrated an ability to build, grow, and enable high-performing teams and businesses. 
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