What if All we Need is Just a Little Impatience?
by Michelle “Mitch” ShepardIf I could wave a magic wand and name one wish, I’d wish for patience. I have my dad to thank for that.Years ago, when we discovered he had Alzheimer’s disease, I felt a strong desire to record my dad’s life story. He’d lived such a colorful life, and I was afraid that all those memories I’d always taken for granted would soon be erased. So we sat down and talked for hours—and I recorded every word. I asked my father, “If there’s one thing you could have changed, what would it be?” He told me, “I wish I’d been more patient.” I’ve never forgotten that. The reason I’ve never forgotten it is because I AM MY FATHER’S DAUGHTER!Never is my impatience more evident than when I’m in mommy mode. A few years ago, when my daughter was 2½, I had a moment of utter agitation one morning while rushing to get her to preschool on time. I’d asked her several times to put her shoes on before finally growling (literally) in frustration. She looked at me and said, “Mommy! Sit down. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths.” I was wise enough to do as she said. I remember thinking, “I’ve failed. My two-year-old daughter has just put me on timeout for my impatience problem,” and in the very same breath I also felt proud to have raised such a confident and emotionally intelligent little girl. “I must have done something right,” I thought as I followed her instructions and took two deep breaths.Today, I’m experiencing the impatience of “waiting for Dad to die.” He’s in a memory care facility and he fades a little further every day. It’s painful. What else can I say? It’s really painful. And that old familiar voice of impatience is back: “How long will he have to live like this? How long will we—me, my mom and my sisters—have to live like this? How long will we have to endure the heartbreak of watching Dad die, achingly slowly?” Even as I write these words, I can imagine my dad growing impatient and, with his signature combination of laughter and sarcasm, telling me, “Jesus Mitchie, don’t sit around here waiting for me to die…that won’t do you (or me) any good!”You know what, he’d be right! What if my impatience was actually a GIFT? After all, it’s part of the human experience—it’s part of being “real.” If I’m truly honest, it’s proven very productive at times.When I was wrestling with the decision of whether or not to pursue WiRL, there were soooo many reasons NOT to—“my kids are still young, my dad is dying, I already have one business, do I really need a second?…” But guess what? My impatience took over and here I am. Boom! AND, although there’s some sadness and a bit of guilt sprinkled into the mix, I’m incredibly happy, inspired and confident that I’m doing the right thing, at the right time.Maybe it’s time to re-write the code in our family around patience. I wonder what I’ll say when my own kids come and ask me one day, “What’s the one thing you wish you could change?” Will I tell them, “I sure wish I’d been more patient”—or will my answer be, “I sure am glad I wasn’t patient (with my dreams)…life is short!” I suspect it will be a bit of both J. I’m a feisty Irish firecracker—just like my Dad. The gift is that I make things happen. The curse is that I make things happen. Whether it’s getting shoes on in the morning or fulfilling my purpose…impatience is what drives me to get it done.Michelle “Mitch” Shepard is the Founder & Creative Force behind WiRL Leadership Summit— an online event for professional women seeking career success and personal fulfillment. An executive coach, facilitator, and leader herself, Mitch knows firsthand what it takes to succeed to today’s business world, and is eager to help women accomplish their professional and personal goals. Mitch specializes in Emotional Intelligence and is known for her energy, humor and realism.[divider scroll_text=“SCROLL_TEXT”] Ready to do more in your career and life in 2014? Join us and 1 million other participants on February 19th for the Take The Lead Challenge Launch Event, designed to inspire you and show you how to embrace your power and fulfill your potential. Learn more about the event and sign up for the free livestream.