There is a placard in my office I read daily; it states: “The key to patience is peace.” In this culture, we want “instant” everything – coffee, fast food, relationships, and the lifting of unpleasant circumstances. Rarely do we think that trials could serve a purpose, or contribute to our development as a person.
Some believe that a certain amount of suffering can lead to purification. The percolating of events over a time period may be just what we need to blossom into our full potential – to realize and develop attributes that would have otherwise remained dormant.
If necessity is the mother of invention, then adversity is the grist that produces behavioral pearls. Riding out a bad situation in retrospect can be a blessing in disguise. In McCain’s book “Why Courage Matters” men and women whose honor was tested served as role models for witnesses. He states:
Thank goodness we have such debts, no matter how onerous they may seem, no matter how long they press us (p. 170).
Some who served in prison camps describe their stays as growth experiences, solitary times in which they contemplated personal relations. Likewise, Alexander Solzhenitsyn stated he wouldn’t trade his gulag stay because it taught him what was important in life – the spiritual.
Although the majority are not faced with trials of this magnitude, we need to develop a long term focus for the inconveniences we do experience. You’ve probably heard the “teacup story,” in which a piece of clay (through undergoing the painful kiln) became a thing of beauty. In a similar vein, McCormack stresses the need for patience in business:
Being judged over the long haul also puts even more of a premium on patience, waiting for the right time to say or do something. Know when to be visible and when to lay low (p. 66)
In the words of Kenny Rogers, we need to “know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.” Riding out the rough times can provide just the needed skill set for your next level of achievement.