In this episode, Pete and Jen dive in to the difference between patience and waiting.
In this episode, Pete and Jen dive into the difference between patience and waiting.
Specifically, in this episode Jen and Pete talk about:
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Jen: Hello, Peter.
Pete: Hey, Jen.
Jen: I really want to talk to you about something that is on my mind, which is the idea of what happens after you've planted a seed. There is a difference between patience, and waiting. So, I would like to talk about the difference.
Pete: Okay. Let's talk about the difference between patience and waiting, while we are planting seeds. I think I follow. This is The Long and The Short Of It.
Pete: Okay, tree planter, what do you got?
Jen: Okay. So several weeks ago, we did an episode on integrity tests, because it felt like everywhere I turned, something was being put in front of me that was a challenge. Well, things have completely shifted. And since then, I feel like everything that is being put in front of me is, like, reaping the harvest of seeds that were planted by clients of mine over the last twelve to eighteen months.
Jen: Yeah, it's pretty cool. And I've noticed sort of a mindset pattern, that I think is worth calling out. The people who I've been working with recently who are able to practice patience are also the people who have been able to turn their seed-planting into a harvest. And the thing they have in common is- they had a clearly articulated, and detailed plan that always had a next step.
Pete: Mmmm, you know how I feel about detailed plans. So this could be...this could be interesting. Tell me more.
Jen: Yes. Okay. So, I think that even for someone who doesn't have a long-term plan, you can change your mindset, and choose to practice patience rather than choose to wait. Because waiting feels like you don't have agency over what happens next, and your own actions. Whereas practicing patience means that you have...maybe it's a pre-determined length of time, or at least some suggested period of time, and when that time has expired, you know what next step you will take. So, let me give you a real-life, concrete example of what I'm talking about...
Pete: Let's do it.
Jen: ...and then we can see how we can play around with this. So, a couple clients of mine, well actually many clients of mine are looking for agents. But a handful of them have decided to go about this in a very practiced and deliberate way. And this involves planting seeds, and then practicing patience while those seeds grow. And while they tend to those seeds and water them, it's not like they walk away. So, what this might look like if you have planted a seed and then decide to wait, is you go, "I've planted a seed, and now we'll just wait for it. And I have no sense of what I'm going to do next. And I don't know if I should follow up with that person. And I don't know if I should come at it from another angle. I'm just going to wait and see what happens.". Whereas some of these artists who I've been working with who've been very practiced in their patience- they plant a seed, they water it, and they say, "Now is the two-week period during which this seed grows.".
Jen: "At the end of these two weeks, there are two possible outcomes. One is- I will have heard back from this person I reached out to. And the other is- I won't. Depending on which one of those things comes to fruition, this is my next step.". So they're always thinking about advancing and progressing. And then during that, that period of two weeks, they're practicing patience, and thinking ahead towards next steps as opposed to just waiting.
Pete: Mmm, oooh, okay. So, patience being very deliberate.
Jen: Yes, it is a practice.
Pete: A deliberate and intentional practice. I love that. The other thing I would say is, in terms of waiting...I'm sure you and I have spoken about this before, in the podcast...that waiting feels like hiding, as well.
Pete: And waiting feels like passing the buck, a little bit. And I mean...I know myself, for example- years ago, when I was working in start-ups, there was one particular project I was working on. And I thought that I was, within that project, the right person to be promoted, essentially. That was the short of it. And I was waiting for said promotion. And hiding, I recognize now, totally hiding in the waiting. And created this, like, "woe is me" story that, "I am waiting. And no one is bestowing upon me this promotion. And it's just taking forever. And everyone else is to blame, and it's not on me.". And so, using myself as an example, what I think is interesting is that we can hide and blame others when we wait. Whereas deliberate practice feels more like taking ownership. So, like, very tactically...because I know you like to, like, map these things out or work backwards, which is not necessarily what I do. But, like, tactically is it as simple as (I think you might have said this), is it as simple as, when writing it down giving yourself, you know, if it's a, if it's a, an email or something you're waiting for, is it as simple as, like, "In ten days time, if I have not heard back, then I'll do...this.". Is that sort of...?
Jen: Yes. And what I encourage my clients, when they're doing something scary, like reaching out to someone they want to connect with is- before you hit send, make the commitment to yourself. What is the amount of time that you are willing to practice patience?
Jen: So once you hit send...
Jen: ...two weeks can go by without you constantly refreshing your email inbox. Because you have chosen to practice patience for those two weeks.
Pete: Yeah, wow. Okay, that is the opposite of what a lot of us do. Which is...
Jen: [laughter] I know.
Pete: "...I've sent the email- now I'm waiting, now I'm waiting, now I'm waiting. Where is it? Where's the response?". Mmm. Okay, that's, that's, that's wisdom. I also just had a noodle to pick up on, as you were talking about waiting is, like, it feels like (maybe this is a slight left turn), but there are moments in our lives where waiting is almost hard to avoid. So, maybe you're waiting at the doctor's surgery, maybe you're waiting in the supermarket line, whatever the waiting is. And so, what I think about...I've thought about this from a number of different ways, but essentially it's- how can I make that waiting time, that "dead time" (in air quotes), proactive? So I thought that might be worth unpacking a little bit.
Jen: Yes, yes, yes, yes Peter! So, I use a productivity system called GTD: Getting Things Done.
Pete: Love it.
Jen: If anyone has read it, it's a great book. It's very thorough. The system needs to be executed full-out. So if you're not into full-out execution, it's not the system for you. But if you are...
Pete: It's not for me. It's not for me.
Jen: Okay, so one of the categories of things in my Getting Things Done framework is a category called "Anywhere". So it's things that I need to get done, but can be done anywhere. They're not location specific. So, if I am waiting in the doctor's office, for example, I could go to my "Anywhere" list and start getting something done. I also have another list called, "Someday, Maybe". And it's like...
Jen: ...articles I want to read, podcasts I want to listen to, people I want to write to. So I can get that done there, too. And then there's always room for, you know, a great podcast.
Pete: Right. Yeah.
Jen: Like, I don't know, this one! Or a book!
Pete: Have you ever been caught in line listening to your own podcast?
Jen: No, but I have been caught in my office listening back to episodes that we're in the process of saying "yay" or "nay" to, and that's sort of awkward.
Pete: Yeah, me too. It's happened to me, too. So, I don't have as thorough a system, but I do think a lot about making waiting time proactive. And for me it's, it's usually in the form of a podcast, listening to a podcast, or listening to an audiobook. They're kind of the two, I guess, mechanisms I use to make waiting time proactive. And I just get to learn something while I'm standing in line, which I think is amazing. And this is (you and I have spoken about this), and this is, I think, part of the magic of the, the kind of the era that we're in where- I can get obsessed with a topic, any topic. I can look up who are the experts in that topic, and then I've just got, like, a plethora of free resources from that person being interviewed on countless podcasts. And, as someone who is obsessed with continuous learning, I just, I just find that amazing, and so wonderful that I can stand in a line, I can be at the supermarket, and I can be learning from a world expert in neuroscience on the importance of sleep. I'm just like, "This is ridiculous! This is crazy!" So, there's a side note.
Jen: I want to take what you're talking about and apply it to this story that is very present in my mind, because it crossed the finish-line literally today, before we started recording this. So, I have a client who had done a lot of work on identifying which agency she wanted to be represented by. She's very specific, has a deep sense of purpose in her work, and her options after really getting to know the landscape were a handful of offices, and there was one that really rose to the top. So, she put in all of the work. And I'm talking, like, deep emotional labor work, in addition to tedious, like, sweat on your brow kind of work, to meet the people in the office, put her work in front of them, and then practice patience. But to your point about, like, waiting in a doctor's office and being proactive- what is she doing during the patient period? So, what she could have done...and the reason I know this is because she actually said all of this, either out loud or in text, like she, she made her thought process known. What she could have done was start to reach out to other offices, because she was afraid that this one wasn't going to come through. And she said, "No. Until this crosses the finish-line with a 'yes' or a 'no', I am practicing patience. I am putting every egg in this one basket until I know where I stand. And in the meantime, I am going to be proactive. So I'm going to start making progress towards some of the other goals that I have. I'm going to enroll in some classes to help to strengthen my technique. I'm going to do some private coaching to make sure that the, the work that I'm putting out there is as pristine, and purpose-driven as it can be.". So, during this patience period, she wasn't doing nothing. She was doing a lot. But she was letting the eggs sit in the basket, or the seeds sit in the soil, or whichever metaphor you'd like to use, until something was produced. And in this case, it turned out to be a "yes". But, if it had turned out to be a "no", she had already determined what her next step would be.
Pete: Nice. And she hadn't been sitting around waiting for six weeks, then gone, "I've just wasted six weeks of my life.". It's like, "No, no, no. I've been proactively moving other things forward.". Mmm. I love that.
Jen: Yes, while practicing patience, over here.
Pete: Yeah. I just also want to call out, in that example, like, for anyone listening- I think you could replace "agent" with "job", if performing arts is not your industry. Like, waiting for a job, trying to tee up a particular career path, or with a particular company that you're looking to work for. I think it definitely has the same application. Hmm.
Jen: Yeah, and it probably has application outside of work too. Like, I haven't been on the dating market in [laughter] almost two decades, but I imagine that it's true in personal relationships that are developing. Like, practicing a bit of patience.
Pete: Yeah, we're definitely going off the deep end if we start talking dating. [laughter]
Jen: [laughter] And this is coming from a non-expert, so don't listen to me. Alright, so what conclusions have we come to today?
Pete: So firstly, I would like to say- I absolutely love the distinction between waiting and patience. One being reactive, and reliant on others: that is waiting. And the other being proactive, and reliant on oneself: which is patience. What else did we learn?
Jen: Yes. Well, we learned that perhaps a good email strategy is to know what you're going to do, before you hit send.
Pete: And, we learned that Jen Waldman has some great dating advice, for those out there...[laughter]
Jen: [laughter] We've also learned that the best things don't come to those who wait. The best things come to those who practice patience.
Pete: And that is The Long and The Short Of It.