Patience – A Virtue?

Patience – A Virtue?

We all know of Sir Isaac Newton, his discovery and the laws of Newton; and we all certainly adore him for this great achievement. But, according to Newton himself, ‘If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention, than to any other talent’. This amply illustrates the value and greatness of the quality of patience and those of people who are blessed with this quality, this virtue.

What is Patience :

Patience means good-natured tolerance of delay, or incompetence.. It is thus a measure of your tolerance level of the way somebody acts or some things get done, or some things happening taking more than the required time,or even the way the thing is handled or happens. On the one hand you are keeping your good nature in tact in such a situation, without getting affected and, on the other, you tolerate whatever happens opposite of the way you want, or whatever happens taking time longer than required. This quality of Patience in people has been epitomized as a virtue, in fact. But, Is such a quality desirable?

Need for patience.

Some things happen, or move I’n a particular fashion, beyond the control of humans. No amount of fretting and fuming will be of any use. Time is one just example. It moves I’n it’s own speed. If we have to wait for one hour for take off of a flight at a particular point of time, we have to wait for that much of time. No complaints from our side can make anything happening sooner. But, for some reason, if it takes more than that one hour, due to reasons unknown to us, the delay automatically starts testing our patience level. If the reasons for the extra delay is for genuine reasons, we tend to tolerate, but not so if it is otherwise – we start cursing the circumstances, fate, whatever and show our impatience.

Patience – a good quality

Patience is a good quality in many ways. It helps us to function better in various ways, some of which are explained below.

No jumping to conclusion

Patience allows you to examine matters in detail,analyze, understand and then decide on a particular issue, and therefore more likely I’n such a situation, the act of jumping to a conclusion is avoided and the act or decision is likely to produce better results. Many a time a decision taken on the spur of the moment lands you in a difficult spot and you have to think of retracting, sometimes cutting a sorry figure.

Patient thinking:

Patient thunking allows you to analyze pros and cons of the issue and leads to good decision. The more detailed analysis we can make, the more the chances are for a better, correct and focused decision.

Listening first and then talking. .

Patience implies that you listen more than talk. While listening more, you get more information for your judgement and little talk means avoiding pitfalls due to unbridled action. A better listener is a better decision maker.. And people love you if you are ready to listen to the other party and then respond.

Makes you cool and then act better.

Generally good decision makers realize that many things move or happen over a period of time,and not instantly. Therefore they know they have to wait with patience, without getting unnecessarily heated up and having to raise temper.

Is patience always good?

Patience is not always good. While patience up to a level is good, continued patience will only weaken your power to make decision, and expose your inefficiency and your incompetence.

Excessive patience could make you a laughing stock; this could be misunderstood as your lack of knowledge and courage to take bold decision. If, I’n the garb of patience, you go on dilly- dallying, that could easily be understood, which will give others the chance to dominate over you.

Need for balance.

One has to therefore understand the pros and cons of being patient and exercise a judicious balance in all his actions which would mean that you are reasonably patient enough for the occasion and, at the same time, taking enough caution to ensure that finally you act as per your judgement,

Patience – when and where necessary:

While dealing with children, dealing with your subordinates, dealing with your boss, dealing with doctors, elders etc. you have to always show a reasonable amount of patience. Everything takes time and many things generally move not as per our own expectations. You must exercise patience I’n such situations. Your impatience might cause irritation to others. I’n the case of financial planning involving investments etc. patience is a must, for money grows only gradually. You must realize that little drops of water make oceans. Only the slow and steady win the race. Sometimes we may have to sacrifice our immediate pleasures and accept delayed gratification. Or postponement of our pleasures could reap rich benefits for us in the long run. Life itself is a long and tiresome journey. We should only be doing our duty, leaving the rest to God.

Patience – some examples

We have often seen in films the hero who is hesitant to act. At times, when he is attacked by his enemies, he takes all the blows leaving us surprised posing the question ti us, ‘is this heroism; what the he’ll is he doing, can’t he act, how sad’ etc. In actual practice, he, by remaining patient initially and suffering on that account, is only biding time, by remaining patient, and may be drawing within his mind the strategy for a counter attack. For, you see suddenly a reversal of roles, and your sudden inner delight justifies the hero’s patience – he wins ultimately.

The recent example of Manmohan Singh’s action could also be taken as a lesson in patience. With all sorts of opposition to his silence from his critics and the the label of ‘under-achiever’ stamped on him, he was spurred into action with big bang reforms, which has come for praise from the industry. One could say that during his silence, he showed grit and patience and perhaps biding for time to open up his strategy. For him, at least, patience has paid off. Perhaps, many may not agree with this view.


Well, it will be agreed that one has to tread with caution, tread with patience in every action of one’s life. So, make patience your patent for success. According to James Clavell, ‘patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you are patient, then you will soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with eternity.’


About cvsubramaniam

Former Director, Department of Electronics & Informatiin Technology, Government of India.. Authored Book on Human Resource Management. Published 80 plus articles on HR, Management, S&T, general topics.
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