I have always been an extremely impatient individual. I find that patience, for me, is not a virtue. Rather, it is a severe burden for my energetic lifestyle. However, I have decided, that due to the recent corona virus pandemic, I must accept this burden and diligently try to become more patient.
During my long business and educational career, my impatience was often seen by myself and others as a pathway to the rapid achievement of my goals. Now, I realise there are forces that are much stronger than a career, a business, professional success or even personal happiness. The forces do not obey my usual impatient behaviour.
During the corona virus pandemic I have decided at this time not to self isolate, although this situation may change. This week I was planning on travelling hundreds of miles by public transport to present my Jewish Objects for Education in Scotland (JOES BOXES) programme at local primary schools that are located upon one of our Scottish islands. I could tell from the worried looks of friends and family that my timing for this journey was not good, even though the schools have remained open.
The decision to postpone this visit was made for me today by the wise head teachers who cited guidance that they have been given by local authorities to reduce visits and limit programmes. Therefore, I must now be patient and await the opportunity to reschedule this visit in perhaps, hopefully, autumn. When I enter my home, typically I immediately remove my hat, coat and gloves and then settle in for a wee dram or to focus upon writing or both. Now, as a result of the corona virus pandemic, the first thing I do is walk directly to the loo and carefully and thoroughly wash my hands to help protect my wife and others from the corona virus. This has required discipline and a form of patience that I honestly did not know was within my gift.
We are surrounded in our neighbourhood by many folk who are somewhat older than ourselves and therefore within the high risk range. Therefore, each day upon rising, I also patiently think about who might need help and contact them to see if we may do anything to make their life easier during these difficult times.
Whilst I do have the gift of generally good health, I am now learning to acquire a new gift. The new precious gift of patience is one that I would never have imagined that during my seventh decade I could master. In fact, I am diligently working on becoming a master of my fate with regards to becoming more patient in order to protect my own health and the health of others. It will not be easy, however, it is essential.
In business, I was often extremely imatient with vendor partners, staff and sometimes, even clients. Now, as I sadly watch many of the normal business practices in the live events industry grind to a screeching halt, I believe it is more important than ever before to respect and practice the art of patience in business.
My firm suffered unprecdented turmoil during Black Monday on 19 October 1987 when the U.S. Stock Market lost 20% value in one day and we were caught off guard. Suddenly, all events were cancelled and we had very few financial reserves and our cash flow suddenly slowed to the point we were facing bankruptcy.
I recall pouring a strong drink and discussing our options with my wife and senior staff and then deciding that honesty, openess, candor, transparency and compassion was the best way forward.
The next day I met with our staff and explained that our financial situation was precarious and that we were seeking to avoid lay offs. I then walked into my office and closed the door so that I could began calling all of our vendors to see if I could slow our payments so that we could afford to continue to pay our staff.
To my surprise, the very first vendor partner said “Take as much time as you need. For nearly ten years you have always paid us on time and sometimes early. We need your business in the future. Pay us what you can and when you can.” Every subsequent call provided the same comforting message.
I then met individually with the staff and said that we would maintain their medical insurance during this difficult time and I asked them to consider restructuring for a short time their compensation scheme to lower salaries whilst simultaneously increasing their sales commissions.
Fortunately, within a few days, our business returned to its normal robust condition. However, one of the key lessons I learned from this period and that I applied to other future serious business and life interruptions was that patience is the first and perhaps most enduring path to future stability.
Therefore, during these tumultuous times, I hope you will consider being more patient with yourself and with others as we bravely and based upon evidence and facts, seek to find new ways of doing business that will be sustainable for all of us. For the unforsesable future, I shall practice patience on a daily basis and I believe that over time, we shall emerge from this threshold moment with greater wisdom, strength and a greater ability to patiently await better days to come.