On a to-do list.
11.30 am Meet the director of something.
12.00 pm Get flu shot
12.30 pm Get library card.
12.45 pm Catch bus home
It is 12.15, the meeting started late and is still going on. It is 12.30 and the lines at the pharmacy are dreadful. It is 12.45 and the librarians computer has to restart. It is 1.30 pm, you missed the bus and have to wait for the next.
There are instances where even the most god-like person’s patience is tested. In those moments, logic says to abandon one thing half-way so as to not miss out on the next task.
‘I can always get back to it later’, ‘Let me at least get the next thing done.’ You tell yourself.
At the end of the day you are left with a to-do list of half completed tasks and little-to-no value extracted.
There is a story of a Chinese bamboo tree. It requires 5 years of daily and consistent nurturing and watering. In this period, there are no visible signs of a tree. A single missed day, however, would stunt the tree’s growth. But after the 5th year, the stem breaks ground and grows 80 feet tall in just 6 weeks. The lesson being that it does not take 6 weeks for the tree to grow. It takes 5 years.
This is a perfect illustration of the butterfly effect. The concept is that small causes/actions can have large effects.
This is not to say that you should do the wrong things and expect results in the name of patience. This is to demonstrate that persistence in doing the right things, with methodical strategies, can reap tremendous gains.
Granted, sometimes the cost of patience outweighs the value of completing the task. But what about the opportunity cost for doing the things that matter?
In this instance, had the meeting been cut short, a hot lead presented at the very end would have been missed. A missed flu-shot would have needed rescheduling and increased exposure to the flu. Refusal to wait for the computer to restart would require a second trip downtown to acquire a much needed resource.
And get this, turns out there was no bus scheduled for 12.50 anyway. It was a bi-hourly bus, and the next one only came in at 1.45. Following the butterfly effect, a half-finished meeting would have resulted in an hour-long bus wait.
Then I would REALLY be pissed.