Why patience is as important as practice.

by Todd Foley

Yup. That was me tonight.

I renewed my pool pass today and went to do an impressive number of laps. Sure, it had been four months since my last trip to the pool, but I could pick up where I left off. I was sure of it.

Most of the lanes were already occupied, so I jumped into one with a guy who looked to be at my same level. I launched off the wall and gave it my all.

The other guy looked like the dude at the top of this picture. I looked like the train wreck below. That was before I even finished my first lap.

I panicked. I gasped. I struggled.

I grew frustrated with myself. So very, very frustrated.

I took a quick break to catch my breath. I knew I was capable of doing this routine. I had done it a number of times. Obviously I was out of practice, but that isn’t what crippled me. It was my lack of patience.

Ever felt this way? This certainly wasn’t the first time for me, and I knew I could get through it. I just needed a few breathers – along with a little patience.

I took my time, rewarded myself with periodic breaks and met my goal. It took longer than I had planned, but I finished.

Patience is an integral part of our very existence. Yes, we need to pursue excellence and constantly push ourselves to do better than before. When we hold ourselves to the impossible expectation of get-it-right-the-first-time, though, we’re bound to be crippled by that ever resounding inner critic. “You’re no good, Todd. You’re not strong enough, Todd. You’re not creative enough, Todd.” [Insert your own name.]

This is my daily battle. To remember the truth about who I am. My strengths. My gifts. My accomplishments. The lies of inadequacy easily drown out the truth of my God-given abilities. I am far from having arrived at perfection, but I owe myself the gift of patience. We all owe it to ourselves.

I’ll close with some wise words from my favorite angry pop star. Simple and maybe even cliche, but true. Sometimes that’s just what we need.

“You’re so mean when you talk,
about yourself, you were wrong

Change the voices in your head,
Make them like you instead.”
– Pink

How have you learned to give yourself the gift of patience?