START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

3 Ways to Practice Patience at Work

Zen describes several kinds of patience that can be practiced at work: acceptance of difficulty and hardship, not acting hastily, and acceptance of what is true. Let’s explore these.

Acceptance of difficulty. Our lives at work can be transformed when we completely accept that difficulty is to be expected and cannot be avoided. This doesn’t mean we take the negative attitude of “what will go wrong today?” Instead, we just pay attention to our own state of mind. We make our best effort. We meet each situation as it arises.

Not acting hastily. Given how difficult, unpredictable, and stressful our work lives can be, it is easy to respond quickly and impatiently. In difficult situations, just stop, think, and look more carefully at what really is the cause of the difficulty. When your computer crashes you can get upset and yell at whoever is in charge of your computer systems. Or, when your computer crashes, what if you just stop, take a breath, and notice your breathing, notice what is around you.

Acceptance of what is true. Most of our impatience comes from our wanting things to be different from what they are. Our overnight package did not arrive overnight. This is just true. There is nothing we can do to change what is. We can take actions to expedite the package’s delivery, but this action includes accepting what is difficult, not acting hastily, and accepting what is true.

Some questions:

When are you patient and when you are impatient at work?

What is most difficult for you at work?

What part of this difficulty do you create?

How can you transform this difficulty?

Adapted from Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration.

Read more: Guidance, Health, Inspiration, Self-Help, Spirit, , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Marc Lesser

Marc Lesser is CEO of ZBA Associates LLC, a company providing executive coaching, leadership development consulting, and keynote speaking services to businesses and non-profits. He is a developer and instructor of Google’s Search Inside Yourself program. Marc is a Zen teacher with an MBA degree and a former resident of the San Francisco Zen Center for 10 years. He is the author of Less: Accomplishing More By Doing Less and Z.B.A. Zen of Business Administration.


+ add your own
10:32PM PDT on Jul 8, 2013


3:08AM PDT on Jun 29, 2013

Thanks for a different perspective.

6:28PM PDT on Oct 10, 2012

One of my best friends taught me her version of the 24 hour rule. She taught me to wait 24 hours before reacting to someone who is very close to you after he/she has said something to upset you, and also to wait 24 hours before you write something to someone you are very close to, and read it again the next day after writing it. This has helped me to choose to act reasonably often times when I might have reacted hastily.

8:11AM PDT on Mar 19, 2012


10:00AM PST on Feb 13, 2012

Starting with a deep breath can enable patience.

5:42AM PST on Dec 1, 2011

Patience is something that I'm still working at. But, if I'm not actually writing to a deadline, sometimes I secretly love it when the internet goes down - and I realise all the other things I can do instead. I get so much done when I'm not having to be my computer's handmaiden!

12:19AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

This statement is something I always try to remain concious of: "Most of our impatience comes from our wanting things to be different from what they are."
On the other hand, I believe there is not much wrong in expecting a certain standard of service. Last week an employee gave three of us different incorrect information when we asked a certain question. We asked another person to delve deeper, as in the past I had been discriminated by this organisation. Following this, this customer service clerk claimed she had misunderstood all 3 requests. I heaved a sigh of relief to learn that she was not discriminating against me - as her boss had done - but that perhaps the staff who were employed by the boss all had to have one common characteristic..... poor customer service !

11:01PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

"And oftentimes excusing of a fault
Doth make the fault the worse by the excuse."

— King John, Act IV, sc. ii

10:54PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

I have one question: more than one of the great (famous) buddhist masters have been recorded as temperamental and what point in their meditation career did they exhibit such personality traits?

Are we truly being true to our innermost nature by suppressing our natural adrenalin responses, or are we obsequiously subscribing to dominant societal norms? - by being "good children", "good students", "good workers" - seen and not heard.

True detachment is not indifference, it is "holy indifference" which may well include detachment from ones own exasperation with inequable situations.

7:05PM PDT on Jun 27, 2011

Great info. Thanks.

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!