I sometimes think that Zen students and entrepreneurs are the most patient, and at the same time the least patient, people. Zen students spend long hours, days, and years, sitting, facing a wall, expecting nothing. Entrepreneurs spend a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money planning and working without knowing the results of their efforts. While Zen students and entrepreneurs exhibit great patience they are equally impatient when it comes to accepting anything less than perfection.
Basho, a Zen poet, wrote:
The horse pissing
Near my pillow
This poem describes the rawness of Basho’s life and his ability to describe things just the way they are. My poem for today could be something like:
Email not working
Employees out sick
Our lives at work are filled with difficulty. People are late for meetings. Our ideas are not met with enthusiasm. Computers crash, restart, and crash again. Other people don’t meet our expectations. Our overnight package is lost. Relationships become impossible. Cash shortages are threatening, and businesses fail. Patience requires that we fully and directly face our difficulties, that we embrace and learn from situations and from our feelings about them. Owning and transforming our pain and disappointment can be a tremendous challenge, as well as a tremendous gift.
Patience is what connects the entrepreneurial spirit required in business with facing the truth of what is actually required in Zen practice. It takes patience to face the truth of where we are in our work lives. The truth may include the pain of not meeting expectations, a variety of messy and challenging situations facing us each day, as well the possibilities of transformation and great accomplishment.
Next: 3 ways to practice patience at work