When To Harness - Or Ditch - Patience As A Virtue

Urgency can be an essential tool to growing a high-impact organisation, or a distraction.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Urgency can be defined in two ways — one that implies something crucial, and another that implies determination. When it comes to entrepreneurship, we use urgency to drive purpose and delivery.


In my experience, entrepreneurs have a paradoxical relationship with urgency. We understand that it takes time to build a successful business, but we don't have the patience to build a business.

Recently, I wanted to launch a new product and was eager to get it out to the market. I was excited to introduce this new idea. But I had to wait until all of the parts of the product were ready. While I understood that the project would take time, I felt impatient and wanted to speed up the process. The dissonance between my vision and current reality creates the urgency, while the previous experience of building my businesses reinforces my patience. In trying to reconcile the

paradox between being patient and urgent, I need to be deliberate in my planning, and deliberate in trying to create shortcuts.

Be Deliberate with Your Planning

The more deliberate and thorough your planning, the more realistic you will become in understanding the time and patience that is required to build a business.

I recommend "systems thinking', which involves the complete understanding of a system and its components — in order to plan better. The more information you have to determine priorities, sequences and timelines, the more accurate and thorough your planning process and outcomes will be.

Remember that planning takes time, forcing you to be even more patient throughout the process. When you plan, you become more realistic, and take note of the specific steps you need to take to build your business.

If I had taken the time to be more deliberate in plotting and planning the timelines of my new product, I would have been more realistic about the process behind developing a new product.

No plan is foolproof; they are all susceptible to the frailties of reality. Contexts change, people change, desires change, resources change, and together these create the need to build new pathways towards achieving a plan. Prepare for these changes by providing additional contingency time as standard practice in all of your planning.

Create Shortcuts

We normally assemble a plan and establish the pathway to creating an outcome that is based on our current perception of reality, and our current perception of the utility of our resources. But, when we focus on taking shortcuts, we look to see if there isn't a better way, better resources, or a different utility of current resources to shorten the path, thus serving our need for urgency.

Urgency is served through the creation of shortcuts — such as new processes or resources that can be put into place to ensure quicker, more efficient ways of doing things. Looking back, if I had been deliberate about my planning, I would have been better equipped to create shortcuts when creating my new product, which would have sped up the delivery process.
Being obsessed and deliberate about efficiency is a cultural imperative in your business.

Drive this culture in every meeting. There needs to be transference of your sense of urgency into the culture of your organisation, as a lack of urgency can discourage growth.