There is a policy at work I don’t agree with, and yesterday I poked my boss (again) to remind him that it doesn’t align with the direction that’s been set out for our organization. I asked him how I could help change it.
He said I could be patient.
I’ve been told to be patient before (surprise surprise). But this time it hit me differently. I think it’s because it finally occurred to me that being patient is not doing nothing; it’s doing something. Being patient doesn’t mean being complacent or giving up. It is a strategy to be implemented and a skill to be cultivated.
Working in a bureaucracy is a high endurance sport and (most of the time) we do it with composure and patience–qualities that I think are underrated and not acknowledged as being key skills needed to be a successful (and happy) public servant. We are deliberative and consult with a wide variety of people to determine the course of action that is most likely to yield the best results for the most amount of people, with the least amount of opportunity cost.
We wait a lot and think a lot, especially when we’re aiming to do something that will change rules and norms of the status quo. Yes, things take a long time sometimes, and it can get really frustrating, but it means that we avoid the problems that can arise with hasty or impulsive actions. Consulting with many colleagues, crossing silos, means that we’ll make progress together. Lives and quality of life are at stake, so really, it is our responsibility to take the time to think things through and crowdsource via wiki or in-person.
And we do eventually make progress, usually in a direction that makes the world a better place, particularly for citizens that live here. BC is a wonderful place to live (arguably The Best Place on Earth). A lot of this is thanks to a solid history of thoughtful and patient public servants persisting in the background.
So, maybe we should be more proud of being patient. We should add it to our job descriptions. Let’s acknowledge that as a community of public servants, we’re really good at it and there is value in it. Then, we can find ways to celebrate and hone the positive aspects of patience.