Patience is a crucial tool in every educator’s tool box. Without patience, it is very difficult to be effective. As an educator, I have trained myself to exhibit extreme patience in my classroom. Yet I often find it hard to have patience with myself. I challenge us all (educators, parents, mentors, coaches, friends, etc.) to embrace patience and strive to improve. Read this. Reflect on its message. And make a plan to practice patience not only with others but also yourself.
I recently started training for my 6th marathon. After my first long run over the weekend, I found myself incredibly frustrated that I was not faster. Realistically, I know that I am by no means slower than I should be at this point; I have plenty of time to build both my endurance base and speed.
Yet I cannot help but feel frustrated. And I know that I am not alone in this frustration.
As humans, we tend to block out memories of pain and focus on the good end result. I always remember how good it feels to cross the finish line of race or achieve my goals, yet I tend to forget the hours upon hours of hard training that it took to get there. One of my sisters recently ran a marathon (not her first by a long shot) and expressed that she had forgotten how hard those races were; I felt for her. As a fellow runner, I often feel this way during the last part of a race. Yet, similar to my sister, moments after finishing I forget the pain and focus on my next challenge. That is what we crazy runners do. We focus on the amazing feeling crossing the finish line—proving to ourselves that if we put enough effort and training, we can accomplish our goals. We are lucky enough to be physically able to run and feel the need to celebrate this with a constant stream of races that challenge us to always improve. Yet even though I know this, I am still annoyed that my pace is about 90 seconds per mile slower than I would like it to be. It is during these moments that I must practice patience.
Training for anything—be it physical, academic, social, or spiritual—is incredibly challenging. We must remember that it is about the journey just as much as it is about the end point. The darkest, most challenging moments are when we need to remember this most. When it is hard to see the payoff or when one is completely exhausted and perhaps even disheartened at one’s progress—this is when we must focus the most and remember patience. Reaching a goal takes time; it does not happen overnight. By practicing patience, paired with a determination and drive to continually improve, we can all do things we never thought possible.