Sometimes you just know that the timing is not right. That little voice in your head that thankfully only you can hear lets us know we need to wait. However, waiting is not natural for most of us. In fact, I would say that the majority of us lack the discipline to listen to that still small voice all the time. I most recently wrote a post that was timely in experience, but too close to the life lesson to publish. As I re-read my post, that voice in my head said now is not the time to bring this into public reflection. Those involved may not be ready to hear your thoughts on this just because you are ready to write them. So here I sit writing this post in contemplation of timing, consideration of others, with the intent of delaying my life lesson for another few weeks or so.
I once heard someone say that the sign of maturity is the ability to wait, to delay instant gratification. This is an expected behavior as we mature. Children, teenagers, and yes young adults want instant reward. A child begs his mom to buy that toy in the checkout line, a teenager expects a car the moment he gets his driver’s license, and a young man wants to be CEO the day after he graduates from college. Personally, delaying gratification is a challenge. As a kid I grew up on boats. My dad made sure we spent as much time as possible on the water. Boats, fishing, surfing, snorkeling, all things water are a part of my DNA. Over the years my wife and I have owned boats, but sold them as we moved to New England and back to Florida. With two children of our own now we want them to grow up with memories of being on the water. We have talked about buying another boat and decided the best option for our family is join the local boat club. The boat club allows us the freedom of selecting any boat in the fleet, making a reservation and just showing up at the marina. The club takes care of the maintenance and clean up and for our family this is a great solution to our boating needs. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to the local boat club open house. I will preference this little story with this, I am not a shopper, I am a purchaser. I do all my research and when I go to the store (car dealer, etc…) I buy. My wife on the other hand is just the opposite, she shops. She will “think” about it which drives me nuts. Thank goodness we balance each other out.
We go to the boat club open house and the experience confirms our decision, we want to join. However, my wife is listening to her small voice which is telling her to wait. My voice is totally drowned out by visions of our family on the boat making memories. I have the check book in hand and I am ready to stroke a check for the hefty down payment. Early on in our marriage we agreed that big purchases require joint consensus so I agree to “wait”. As with any good sales approach the sales person throws in a deal that would save us money if only we sign by the end of the business day. Ah ha! I think to myself we can go home and think about it and call her back before the deal ends. Surely, a couple hours is all the “waiting” time my wife needs. To jump to the end, the day passed we did not come to agreement and we did not join the club. What we decided was to wait just a few months or so more and keep our eyes on the goals we had set. This kind of behavior can be foreign when instant gratification comes so natural. To be honest this is a discipline I really started to focus on a little over 17 years ago. Over those years I have had some great success which has paid dividends beyond measure and I have also had some failures that linger with me.
What life has taught me is that when I listen to that voice, when I am willing to pause before I speak, the outcomes are very different. I am not saying the outcomes are always better, because really how do I know that. What I do know is that life will always be a struggle between selfishness and patience and that if I work the rest of my days to improve, I have a chance. I have said it on Cultureinfusion.com before; all my thinking is provisional. What I think I know today will change. So as I write this post in contemplation of delaying my first writing until another day I have to believe there is a reason the timing is not right for its publication.
By the way…to jump back to my boat story, hindsight is truly 20/20. About 2 weeks after we decided to wait on the boat club one of our air conditioning units in our home stopped working. The cost of replacement was just about equal to the boat club joining fee. Talk about being glad we waited. Wishing you the gift of hearing your small voice today.
A Call To Share:
If you have experiences where you delayed instant gratification and experienced a better outcome I would love to hear about it. If you struggle like me with this discipline I would love to hear about it too.