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Business Strategy Why You Should Chill Out on Your Path to Success

There are moments in our lives that change the way we do things. When these moments happen in my life, they are so unexpected and make me really stop and reflect. A few years ago, an incident happened that changed the way I do things – in both my business and my private lives.

There I was, standing in the Rome Termini train station, which is the main rail station in Rome. My wife and I were waiting for a train – the Leonardo Express. The Leonardo Express connects Rome with Fumanciano Airport, on the Italian Coast. We had just finished our vacation and were making our way back home. As is typical for us, we were in a hurry. We just wanted to get to the airport and get settled for our flight home. I was also in a sour mood as I had broken a wheel off my luggage on our way to the train station, which really annoyed me.

We had only been waiting a few minutes, but my mood and sense of urgency made me anxious already. I couldn’t stand to just wait around anymore. So, I decided to find someone to ask if they knew when the next train would arrive.

I approached a middle-aged Italian man who was in the middle of a conversation with another man. I barged right up to him, rudely interrupted him, and asked if he knew when the Leonardo Express was coming. His face changed from animated and cheerful as he was talking with his friend, to an expression of irritation. He gave me a pointed look, then turned to his friend and said, “Just a moment” in Italian. This 5 second delay in answering my question sent my blood boiling even more in my already anxious state.

The man turned back to me and said, calmly, as if he were explaining a simple concept, “Sir, this is Italy. If you wait long enough, it will come!”

I stood there for a second, silent, as my brain processed his words. All of a sudden I burst out laughing. This is my vacation! Why was I stressing myself out for no reason? I had plenty of time before our plane left. Why was I in a hurry? Why was I rudely interrupting people in the middle of their conversation, when I had no dire emergency that would warrant such an interruption? I thanked the man and went back to stand with my wife, chuckling, and beginning to realize the enormity of what I had just experienced.

How often in both my personal and business lives had I used the same behaviour? Should I be pushing hard, or should I be patiently waiting? I realized that many times in the past when I pushed too hard, I usually failed. The reasons for that were:

  • By pushing to get things done quickly, I forgot important details that caused me to fail.
  • My pushing was actually annoying people to the point that they did not want to deal with me.
  • By pushing things that were not yet ready to move, I was just frustrating myself and causing unnecessary anxiety.

These are only a few reasons that I failed but they do illustrate an important point. When I was in a hurry, pushing and being impatient, I was not successful in what I did. The problem is that when we look around, we see other people pushing. They look like they are successful. So we are taught that if we are not pushing our agenda constantly, we will not accomplish our task, or be successful at whatever we are being impatient about. I cannot even imagine how many people become annoyed by this behaviour every day.

I truly believe that we should be patient about how we go after things. When I say patient, I do not mean that we don’t do anything at all. I mean that we should be patient by having a steady, methodical approach to covering all the bases, ensuring our objective is accomplished. Being worried and impatient is not the best way to be successful in the long term.

As that calm Italian man told me all those years ago, “If you wait long enough, it will come!”