Patience is not simply the ability to wait, it’s how we behave while we are waiting. – Joyce Meyer
Hurry Up and Wait
Throughout my short time in the military, I have found myself in multiple seasons of waiting. I prepared for an operation or a specific career path and I want to start right away. However, the environment delays the operation, or a change in job assignments slows down the career plan. In the military, we sometimes refer to this as hurry up and wait. Outside of the military, these seasons of waiting present themselves as the marketplace changes delaying the launch of a big project, or an anticipated promotion doesn’t happen. These times can be frustrating, it is difficult to stay focused on the overall picture, and it is easy to get discouraged. However, our preparations, what we sow, during these periods set us up to maximize success during times of action (harvest).
Train, train, train, train…wait.
My most significant periods of waiting occurred after completing each of the Army’s professional development courses. When I graduated, commissioned, and completed the basic course, my anticipation was to become a platoon leader and deploy to Iraq. After my first unit, I completed the advanced course and anticipated taking command of a company. Most recently, I completed intermediate level education and anticipated becoming a battalion operations or executive officer. However, during each of these periods, my actual career path differed from what I expected. Those divergences created a times of waiting in which I initially lamented over how my actual path differed from my plan rather than recognizing and appreciating the gift those periods provided.
Turn Waiting into Training
Looking back with the perspective of a few more years experience, I recognize how those periods of waiting that I found frustrating actually presented some valuable lessons. As you go through your own periods of waiting, consider the following lessons that I learned from each time life did not fit into my plan.
- Personal Development – Build your foundation
- Positional Development – Build your network
- Plural Development – Build your teammates
Prior to my first deployment, I had the privilege of leading two platoons. In each of those platoons, I worked with great Non-Comissioned Officers who helped me to solidify the core tactical and administrative skills that I continue to use each day.
While waiting for a chance to command a company, I worked on the staff of a battalion whose job was to provide specialized support to the other units. This required me to coordinate training and operations with not only the brigade staff, but also the staffs of the other battalions. When I became a company commander, the network I built allowed me to work with my peers to ensure alignment on a proposed operation before presenting it to the boss for approval.
Now, as I wait for an assignment as a battalion operations or executive officer, I am focusing on developing my ability to build and mentor a team of leaders in the understanding that a leader with a team of leaders is stronger than a leader with a team of followers.
What area can you focus on developing during your period of waiting to reap the benefits during your next period of action?