Physician Dispensing

Stay The Course? Answer These Five Questions.

stay-the-course-change-directionPerhaps it’s just the nature of our society. Maybe we’re conditioned this way. For whatever reason, we want everything right now. That new diet? I want results on Day 2. That new sales rep? It’s week 3, where are the sales? That new teacher? It’s been three months, why aren’t our test scores better? For me, being patient and waiting for something to happen can be a huge challenge. I MAKE things happen, right? I AM in control of my on destiny. The inclination is to try harder. To move faster. To do more. Alas, working harder is not always the answer. More often than not, we have to wait for the results of our efforts. This requires patience – the time to let things unfold. And it requires faith – the belief that we’ve done the right things to earn our desired result.

Think about it:

  • I want to lose 10 pounds. What happens if I become frustrated on day 3? The minute you stop believing you’re making progress, you stop working at it. It may take 60 days to lose 10 pounds – it is not easy.
  • We need more sales. What happens if we become frustrated with our new rep 30 days after she starts? She feels the disappointment and begins to doubt her decision. You begin to doubt the hiring decision. Her departure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It may take 6 months or more for her to become productive. You have to give it time to happen.
  • We need better test scores. Of course we do! Changing behaviors, improving study habits, teaching children how to learn – these things take time. Especially if the foundations for success need significant improvement. Change happens with the persistent application of effort over time. Patience has to be part of the equation.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, it can be a daily struggle. How do I know I made the right decision? How do we know we’ve got the right strategy? Why isn’t this working? To be in business is to make decisions daily and make mistakes daily. We have to continually be assessing our progress against stated goals and evaluating how and what we are executing. Oftentimes, we iterate frequently to adjust to changing dynamics. The pressure is there to “fail fast” and “learn fast”. How do I know when to be patient?

Hear are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are my objectives reasonable? Is it reasonable to believe you can achieve your targets within the stated period? You may have to ask this question repeatedly. If you believe your objectives are reasonable, you have to give things time to unfold.
  2. Am I seeing progress? It is a good idea to identify small steps toward a larger objective to give you a sense of progress. Very often, the biggest issue involves timing expectations and it can be easier to assess and adjust if you see forward movement in the form of hitting milestones.
  3. How well am I executing? An honest assessment of your continuing efforts will give you a good sense of when to be patient. Work your plan to know if your plan is working.
  4. What has changed? Things will continue to change and you have to adjust. Does the change require a course correction or can you address it with tweaks to your plan?
  5. Did I let it go? At various points, you will have to “let go” for a bit to allow things to happen. This can be very challenging. Think of it like farming. Early in the season, the farmer prepares his fields and plants the seeds. There are some things that he needs to do to nurture his crops but there is also a time when he simply needs to LET IT GROW. For the hard-charger, this can be very difficult. Just remember, the world does not always work on our schedule.

If your inclination is to manage circumstances to a specific result, patience will always be a challenge. We all want control – knowing when to “let it go” can help reduce stress and give us clearer perspective hopefully leading to better decisions.

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