3 Ways to Exercise More Patience - THINKERS Notebook

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3 Ways to Exercise More Patience

This week, I have a special treat for you: an essay from THINKERS founder Sean Jackson. 

On our recent team call last week, we were lamenting how difficult it is to be patient while Apple reviews the next generation of the THINKERS App. (Learn more about it here on Product Hunt.)

So I suggested to Sean that he write about it.

The rest of this section is from Sean, then I'll be back after with some links about how to be patient ... especially when it's really, really hard to do so.

Patience is hard


Of all the virtues, this is the one I struggle with the most. 

I become anxious while waiting. My emotions become inflamed. Worry sets in. 

Sound familiar?

I think a lot of us struggle with being patient. 

We live in a world with technology that allows us to find and do almost anything with the touch of a button. What took our grandparents days or weeks to accomplish can now be instantly achieved. 

But being patient is a core attribute of being a THINKER. 

Thinkers appreciate the value that time brings to our ability to understand, evaluate, and act on our ideas.  

And like any skill, patience requires practice.

Unfortunately, our modern world makes it hard to practice patience. We want results now because we are surrounded by messages and tools that promise us results if we act now.

So in a world that creates expectations of immediate results, how do we practice patience?

It starts, like most skills, with exercise -- the mental type, not the physical type (though physical exercise tends to help every brain- and thinking-related).

But before I share ideas to help you improve your ability to be patient, I want to share the story of an event that is putting my ability to be patient to the test.

Waiting on the gatekeeper

As I write this, we are waiting for Apple to approve the next release of our THINKERS App.

As many of you know, this is a major upgrade to the way you can capture and collaborate on ideas using your phone.

For years we have worked toward the vision manifested in this new app. This has required countless hours and significant resources expended to bring this new premium product to market.

And now it's ready!

Except ...

Now we have to wait for Apple to approve it. 

Every app you download requires someone from Apple (or Google) to approve it. And while 90% of the time this process is completed in less than 48 hours, for the other 10% of apps the review process can go on for weeks or even months.

We submitted the app for review on September 10th and are still awaiting approval. And no, Apple doesn’t tell you why there is a delay. 

We are highly confident it is not related to the code or the App Store details, since those are quickly reviewed and rejected if not to standard.

Thus, we wait ... and wonder.

Needless to say, my patience – the one thing I struggle with the most – is tested.

So, what to do?

Well, it’s time to start exercising – our patience that is. 

And like most exercises, we need to do REPs:


  • Redirect
  • Entertain
  • Plan and prepare

3 ways to improve your patience

#1 Redirect your energy. 

Find small tasks that you have absolute control over and do them. Now is the perfect time, because time is what you have.

Take the time to clean out your closet, or paint your room, or organize your emails. There are many things in your life you have control over that, for whatever reason, you have delayed in addressing.

So take your pent-up energy and put it toward a small task that you can reasonably complete and that requires nothing more than your energy and effort.

#2 Entertain yourself. 

In the second episode of the THINKERS Manifesto, I talk about emotional circuit breakers: ways to disengage our emotions around an issue by finding other activities that entertain us. 

Find a book to read or a game you like to play. Maybe go on a short camping trip or a long hike.

Whatever will help you achieve a positive emotion outside of the issue you are dealing with. 

#3 Plan and Prepare.  

Let’s be honest: it’s hard to not spend time ruminating on all the “what ifs” as you are waiting. But how you ruminate matters.

If you just spend time thinking about all the “what ifs” in your head, you will inevitably create more negative emotions that will impede your ability to think clearly.

So, write them down. You should have a notebook and pen handy. 

Try a decision tree, which is a proven model for helping you understand the relationship between actions and consequences. 

By writing down the event and mapping out the potential outcomes, you will find comfort through understanding the different scenarios that may happen.

And here is one tactic that will help.

As you map out your decision tree, add dates to the events. And don’t be optimistic; put dates down that may at this point seem extreme.

Why? Because it will help you manage your understanding of time and add a sense of certainty to an uncertain situation. 

And if you really want to be prepared, add a probability to the event and date occurring. Incorporating probability estimates to actions and dates is a proven method to help you emotionally and intellectually plan for the outcome.

So as you exercise your patience, remember to do your REPs: Redirect, Entertain, and Plan.

And speaking of being patient…

Patience in the time of a pandemic

The other day I spoke with a friend of mine about the Covid-19 pandemic. He laminated the fact that there is no date certain when this pandemic will end. 

Instead we are left with a nebulous idea of it "ending," based on the uncertainties of the future.

I understood his feelings. 

For me, I estimate that there is a 64% chance that we will see some form of remediation to the pandemic in the US by the end of 2021. 

While it’s hard to estimate given the large number of elements that would need to be implemented, I am preparing myself that we will need to deal with the immediate effects of this pandemic for another 15-18 months.

And in the meantime, I will make sure to fix a few things around the house that I have neglected and start reading some of the books recommended by the THINKERS Workshop Book Club.

Basically, I will be doing my REPs as I await the end of the plague in the US. 

Our lives are filled with obstacles that we don’t control and require us to be patient. It’s hard. 

But THINKERS know that time is not something we can control. What we can control is how we respond to time, and hopefully a few REPs will build your strength to endure.

Thanks for reading.

-- Sean

Now on to this week's links ...

A more patient approach to navigating change


Through it all, the journey of patience is rooted in knowing that our current reality inevitably gives way to change. But change won't always happen when we think it should, and patience with ourselves comes from accepting that there are things we can control and things we can't. And though we must make diligent efforts to keep pushing the boundaries of our awareness and to deepen our ability to rest comfortably in the present moment, how fast we develop isn't up to us.

Read: Why Patience Can Actually Improve Decision Making (Huff Post)

What makes people more likely to practice patience?


“This change was so subtle that most people didn’t realize anything was different, yet it changed almost instantly how people made their choice,” said Eric Johnson, the Norman Eig Professor of Business and director of the Center for the Decision Sciences at Columbia Business School. “More importantly, it changed what they chose: If they were encouraged to compare the options, they became more patient.”

That manipulation, however, altered their choices. Participants who were assigned to search comparatively were more patient than those who were assigned to search integratively, regardless of how they searched before.

Watch: How You Make Decisions Can Affect Your Patience (Carnegie Mellon)

Gratitude can make you more patient


“We found that gratitude increases people’s self control, and it increases their ability to wait,” says DeSteno. “[When] you cultivate gratitude in your life, it’s like a self-control buffer. It helps you more frequently be ready to resist temptation and do the right thing, whatever that right thing may be.”

The trick, according to DeSteno, is to not always focus on the biggest things in your life that you’re thankful for. “If you think about the same thing every day you are going to eventually habituate to it,” he says. Instead, focus on smaller things, like a nice favor someone did for you.

Read: Here's an Easy Way to Become More Patient (Time)


Quote of the week

Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in your mind.”

-- David G. Allen