Healthy Impatience, by Jennifer Baker.

Jennifer Baker, wrote, “I was listening to the Marketplace Report on my local NPR station – one of my favorite ways to occupy my mind during my commute, aside from paying attention to the road, of course. An entrepreneur was being interviewed and the interviewer asked him if he was aware of his reputation for impatience. The entrepreneur responded that he was, but in his case it was a ‘healthy impatience.’

This characterization really struck me because, typically, impatience is not a quality to be proud of. In fact, it’s often associated with being a ‘Type A personality’ and, when chronic, can lead to an increased risk of health problems. Healthy impatience seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

I have since done some digging and found that, in fact, some levels of impatience can actually be good for us. In a 2010 story on the topic, Linton Weeks, National Correspondent for NPR Digital News writes:

Impatience can be a virtue. The country’s Founding Fathers were an impatient lot. In an 1822 letter, John Adams described the writing of the Declaration of Independence: ‘We were all in haste,’ he said of the drafting committee, which included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. ‘Congress was impatient.’

You can also find references to healthy impatience in the world of higher education and in the realm of Parent Teacher organizations, and Bill and Melinda Gates believe in the value of healthy impatience so much they’ve adopted a version of it for their Foundation’s website address –

In all cases, healthy impatience seems to be about having a clear vision and the ability to effectively corral resources to execute on that vision. It also seems be about not taking ‘no’ or ‘it can’t be done’ as the final word. And, most importantly, it seems be about knowing when to temper the eagerness and restlessness of impatience with the calmness of patience so that people and principles don’t get trampled.

This concept of healthy impatience strikes me as particularly useful in the world of associations which can, let’s face it, be a bastion for the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ and the ‘we’ve never done it that way’ mindsets. What if we were all to bring some healthy impatience to the table? Who knows?

•    Perhaps, more of our career centers would be showing up on our associations’ main website pages.

•    Or, maybe, just maybe, we would find a way to get a full page spread for our career centers in our membership and media kits versus just short bullets on pages 13 and 23 respectively.

•    Or what about this, we might raise the profile of our career centers high enough that our colleagues start coming to us to figure out how to more effectively use them as on-ramps to greater engagement with our organizations.

As the pastor of a big church here in my area says as the sign-off to his weekly radio addresses…not a sermon, just a thought.”


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