I went hiking with some friends on Saturday. Two of us were ahead of our small group on the trail and I said, “Let’s stop a minute and wait for the others.”
My companion replied earnestly, “Waiting is a waste of time!”
She’s five years old and already worried about wasting time. What does “wasting time,” mean to a five-year-old?
In this case, she was focused on getting where she wanted to be and that was all that mattered. She was on a mission. She had a vision of herself playing by the lake and she didn’t want to wait for anyone or anything on her way to her goal.
She especially didn’t want to waste time on a dusty, hot trail when she could be by the lake we were hoping was just around the next bend.
Sounds familiar doesn’t it? Really, who likes to wait at any age? Yet our lives are full of waiting. How do we teach ourselves (so often like five-year-olds in our thinking and behavior) to appreciate waiting?
We start by noticing what is happening while we are waiting.
In this case: sunlight and shadows, tree leaves moving in the wind, dragonflies swooping by, birds playing hide and seek in the bushes, a lizard sunning, a panoramic view of the lake, being together on a summer day.
Or for another example take major donor fundraising. Sure we love those first time donors who make a surprise major gift but those are rare. Most large gifts are a result of respectful donor cultivation and relationship building. This process inherently includes waiting. The donor chooses the pace and decides when the time is right to make a gift.
We ask. We wait for an answer. What is happening while we wait? We provide information and opportunities for meaningful engagement. We build trust in the vision, mission and financial stability of our organizations. We get to know the passions and interests of the people who care about the work we are doing.
The space of waiting is dynamically alive – don’t miss seeing and appreciating this by becoming overly focused on your end goal.
p.s. Another reason to love waiting: Have you ever sent an email or said or done something that, if you had waited a bit to allow yourself a little distance from your initial emotions and thoughts, you might not have said or done? Waiting offers time for reflection and perspective. Take it.