I had an interesting busy working week far from the office. My Council and I met with a number of provincial ministers to discuss issues that have been in discussion for years. Some of the issues have been resolved and I feel that years of hard work on those issues have paid off.
As I was pondering on these things, I came across a speech by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, pilot, businessman and religious leader titled ‘Continue in Patience’. Mr. Uchtdorf was the Vice President Operations for Lufthansa when he was called to serve in the church he belongs to as a worldwide leader. He is now the ‘Vice President’ of his church, one of the fastest growing organizations in the world.
Although most of the principles in his talk refer to members of his church and their spiritual, religious growth, the concepts he taught can be applied to everyday life and circumstances and, in fact, they represent another aspect of true individual leadership we should carefully consider. Let me share portions of his talk and I will then add some personal comments based on my personal experience.
Mr. Uchtdorf began his talk by saying: “In the 1960s, a professor at Stanford University began a modest experiment testing the willpower of four-year-old children. He placed before them a large marshmallow and then told them they could eat it right away or, if they waited for 15 minutes, they could have two marshmallows.
He then left the children alone and watched what happened behind a two-way mirror. Some of the children ate the marshmallow immediately; some could wait only a few minutes before giving in to temptation. Only 30 percent were able to wait.
It was a mildly interesting experiment, and the professor moved on to other areas of research, for, in his own words, “there are only so many things you can do with kids trying not to eat marshmallows.” But as time went on, he kept track of the children and began to notice an interesting correlation: the children who could not wait struggled later in life and had more behavioral problems, while those who waited tended to be more positive and better motivated, have higher grades and incomes, and have healthier relationships.
What started as a simple experiment with children and marshmallows became a landmark study suggesting that the ability to wait—to be patient—was a key character trait that might predict later success in life.”
He then continued to say: “Patience is a godly attribute that can heal souls, unlock treasures of knowledge and understanding, and transform ordinary men and women into saints and angels. Patience is truly a fruit of the Spirit.
Patience means staying with something until the end. It means delaying immediate gratification for future blessings. It means reining in anger and holding back the unkind word. It means resisting evil, even when it appears to be making others rich…
Patience means accepting that which cannot be changed and facing it with courage, grace, and faith…Ultimately, patience means being firm, steadfast, and immovable…”
As Mr. Uchtdorf continues explaining his personal experience with patience and its application in his own life, I thought of my personal dreams and the desire to do good in life and be a successful leader. I did not come out of High School ready to take on the professional role I play today in my community. I had to wait, and in the process, suffer a bit. I remember a good friend of mine who used to tell his young scouts: “No Pain, No Gain”. We live in a society obsessed with immediate gratification where we can’t stand still for more than a minute. How many times have we caught ourselves in a traffic jam being more and more frustrated instead of accepting the fact that we have no control over what is happening and that we would feel better and certainly would make better use of our time, if we, instead of exuding frustration and focusing our thoughts on the negativity stemming out of the situation, would use the waiting time for something productive, like reflecting on the day to come or just passed, or anticipating the moments that later you are going to live with whom you love?
I agree that patience is not easy. But is easy a good thing? Not necessarily. Then next time, if you are in line at the grocery store and the one in front of you is taking longer than usual and has so many funny questions for the cashier about a particular item he or she wishes to purchase, apply patience and think something positive and wait to see what happens. I bet you will feel something different inside and your day will go on better than usual.
For a video of a summary of Mr. Uchtdorf’s speech follow this link
For a full copy of Mr. Uchtdorf’s speech follow this other link