Our society values speed. The faster we can get the job done or make a profit, the better. Our technology allows us to communicate with each other quicker than ever before, so we demand immediate responses. In our search for faster, better results, we’ve lost the value of patience and the habit of slow, deliberate work.
Some companies advocate for quality results and asynchronous communication over speed. While this is a step in the right direction, it’s not the norm yet.
So, I wonder—should ‘fast’ be our goal? Should we not, instead, incorporate the value of patience in our lives?
What is patience?
In Zen Buddhism, we find the concept of gaman. In simple terms, it means ‘to bear the seemingly unbearable with dignity and patience,’ and can translate as “perseverance”, “patience”, or “tolerance”.
Patience has an important place in modern, highly technological Japan, even during hardhsip. For example, after the 2011 earthquake, people waited patiently in shelters and queued for food, water and fuel.
There’s plenty we can learn from the notion of gaman.
I used to feel bad about being a slow writer. While other writers are reaping the benefits of posting content daily by writing high-quality content at lightning speed, I spend days writing, researching, and editing. And more often than not, I get trapped in a cycle where an article never feels good enough to be posted.
This was a source of anxiety for me until I started watching Jun’s Kitchen.
Patience fosters mastery
Jun’s Kitchen is a cooking YouTube channel. Its creator uploads roughly once a month—far less frequently than other creators on the platform. However, the quality of the content is stunning.
Viewers only get one video a month, but what they get is top quality: Gorgeous drone shots of the picturesque Japanese countryside. Cute cats. Delicious, elaborate recipes that take a lot of time to shop for, test, and shoot. Good editing. Fun music. It’s content you can watch over and over again.
In his comment section, nobody complains about the posting schedule. For their patience, viewers are rewarded with enjoyable, high-quality content. And this model has proven effective for him, as he has 4.9 million subscribers on YouTube and over 1,000 subscribers on Patreon.
And the way Jun works—one step at the time, carefully and deliberately—is also a reflection of the care and patience he puts in the content.
After some reflection, I’ve found that slowing down and approaching work with patience and perseverance is the best way to go. Instead of rushing to get to the goal, crashing and burning in the process, steady progress at a slower pace is more likely to get me where I want to go.
So, here’s what I’ve learned along the way:
1. Be okay with your own rhythm
People work at different paces, and that’s okay. For some writers, writing a 2,000-word blog post in one morning is a piece of cake. For others, it takes several days. Instead of rushing to be your most productive at all times, keep a steady pace to make regular progress.
The key is to understand you can’t get everything done in one sitting. Quality work takes practice and persistence. Patience is also returning to the work day after day to see improvement.
3. Forget about perfect
Being persistent can turn into seeking perfection, making us spend too much time in one project or task without ever completing it. For example, I could spend weeks tweaking this blog post. However, it needs to go live at one point. So, it’s important to know when to let go of the work and put it out there, knowing that it won’t be perfect but that we made an honest effort to make it as good as possible.
Although the value of patience can sometimes be at odds with our culture focused on speed, it’s necessary to achieve the mastery some of us are looking for in our craft.