It takes patience to stack rocks like this.

Why patience is a virtue

My life has been in a holding pattern lately. I’m seven pounds away from my goal weight, and they’ve been the hardest to get off. We ordered a solar panel system for our house, and we’re waiting for it to go through the permit stage. My novel The Remainders was released nearly a month ago, and I’m waiting for it to get flooded with five-star reviews and reach the New York Times bestseller list.

I can handle the waiting because I understand the importance of patience. It’s like the lesson I learned from the myrtle tree nine years ago. You can’t rush certain processes, and you have to wait for results.

I believe that patience isn’t just a virtue. It’s a key trait for success. Here are the reasons.

You must wait for certain steps to be completed before you can move ahead.

When I was a kid, I loved to build plastic models. One of my biggest projects was a four-foot Saturn V rocket I built with my dad. He told me I had to wait for paint to dry before I glued the pieces together. And when I had glued them, I had to wait for the cement to dry before working on the next section. If I rushed through building the model, I would ruin it.

Projects have dependencies where you must wait for a team to finish their task before you work on your piece. I have to wait for the developers to write their code before I can document it. QA needs me to finish my documentation before they can review it. Localization needs for me to finish incorporating QA’s review comments before they can translate it. There may be ways to shorten the time to complete a step, but you can’t skip any of them. And if you rush a step too much, you sacrifice quality that can lead to more costly and time-wasting effort later on.

By being patient, you can allow tasks to be completed in the time they need. This ensures you get the best quality and outcome.

Setbacks are inevitable.

I wish I could tell you my journey to health was smooth, and I dropped 1–2 pounds every week. That’s not true. I had plenty of weeks where the scale went the wrong direction. After a particularly rough week, I found inspiration from this WW poster.

WW shows the reality of progress

Progress is never a straight line. You will encounter setbacks, make mistakes, and find your limitations. It’s natural to become discouraged when this happens. The worst thing you can do is to give up. “Well, I screwed up by overeating the potato chips. I might as well finish the carton of ice cream. I can start tomorrow. Unless I screw up again…”

Patience tells you setbacks are inevitable, but giving up isn’t. Mistakes are part of the process. You find what doesn’t work, make adjustments, and try again. You accept short-term failures because you keep your long-term goals in mind. And when you reach them…

Patience helps you enjoy the rewards.

Finishing that Saturn V model was one of my proudest childhood accomplishments. That it took so long to build and required so much work was even more rewarding than having the model itself. That sense of achievement has lasted longer than the model itself.

Everything worth doing requires time and effort. And the more important something is, the more time and effort is needed to achieve it—and the harder you will work to preserve it.

Patience gives you the endurance and persistence to see the effort through. You will take the time to make sure things are done right. You will be less tempted to give up when you face roadblocks. And you will feel more satisfied when you achieve your goal. These reasons are why patience is a virtue and a key element of success.