I am SO impatient!

Posted by Doc
Apr 14 2009

As much as I talk about leading people to choose to change – influencing them – I have to admit that my natural tendency is toward impatience.  After all, I got it, so why don’t you?  What’s taking so long?  C’mon already!

Once I understand something or internalize something or in some other way get it, I forget about my own AHA! moment when I first got it.

What’s important for me to remember, therefore, is that everyone learns at their own pace, and their AHA! moments will come when they come, not when I want them to come.

When I was studying Shotokan Karate, I worked on a particular kata (form) for several months. I reached brown belt, and was so proud of myself. I was doing that same kata one day, and started seeing all sorts of flaws in it.  I went to my instructor and told him how confusing this was, because it seemed like the flaws appeared suddenly.  He said “the higher the mountain, the farther you can see.”

I think there’s a corollary: the higher the mountain, the more the details are lost in the mist of distance. I think this sometimes applies to the lessons I’ve learned and internalized (the “unconscious competence” level of learning).

As a parent, I’ve certainly seen the situation many hundreds of times. My wife or I will tell one of the kids the same thing over and over and over and… one day, all of a sudden, it seems that they get it.

Why?

No doubt there’s a combination of a critical mass of receptions, plus some catalyzing event or thought that turns it from more yadda-yadda noise into a message that is important to them.

This means that no matter how important or seemingly obvious the message or lesson, I have to learn to be patient, be determined, be consistent, and wait until the other person is ready.

In my work, I run into this frequently as well.  “Oh, now I get what you’ve been telling me all this time, Doc!”

It’s not that I said anything different, or said it differently.  It’s just reaching that moment, that point in time at which it becomes personally relevant and meaningful for them.

And that requires patience.

Sigh.

2 Responses

  1. Diana Larsen says:

    When I was a fledgling instructional designer, someone told me that, on average, a person has to encounter a new idea at least eleven times before it becomes their own. (Since then, I have heard numbers ranging from seven times to forty-four (!) times.) I’m not sure the number matters as much as the principle.

    When I’m working with individuals who struggle to adopt a change in behavior or other new practice or mindset, I remember that I may get to be “person 11” who gets to see the AHA! go off. And, I may be person 3 or 4 who is helping the learning happen, though perhaps not seeing the result. It also keeps me humble knowing when I am person 11 witnessing the AHA!, it’s because 10 other idea bringers helped along the way.

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