The Waiting Game
by Heather Knight 08/16/2012
waiting-room-pic.jpgTime is money. Money is time. This phrase is so ingrained into our culture that it’s hard to imagine we’d have to wait for much of anything in the business world today.

But what happens when that grant doesn’t come through on time? Or your building permit gets stuck in zoning approval, investor dollars dry up at the last minute or an important leadership hire doesn’t materialize? When exceptions like these occur, sometimes it's the MOST efficient and effective businesses that are at a loss.

What happens when an event that significantly affects the trajectory of your organization is put on hold?

Though it goes against the cultural grain of most successful organizations, there comes a time when even the mightiest find themselves taking a number and standing in line. Here are a few things I know about the waiting room:

Waiting rooms provide fertile ground for complaining.
When people are uncertain, they tend to voice it. “We’re sick of this.” “Why do we need it anyway?” “Have they forgotten about us?” “We’d have been better off without it.” There’s a certain type of person that can’t handle the emotional expense of waiting and bails before the resolution — and the reward. You’ll usually hear these folks long before you see them, and you might even breathe a sigh of relief when they finally slide their resignation across your desk.

Waiting rooms provide fertile ground for leadership fatigue.
Everyone who serves in a leadership capacity for any length of time understands this emotion. Things just get heavy. Throw yourself into leadership, and you will have moments when you come to the end of yourself. But that’s why you invested time, money and energy into a strong leadership TEAM, right? You don’t have to carry it alone.

Waiting rooms provide fertile ground for surprising provision.
If you open your hands and release your anxiety, you might be surprised what you receive back. What if good things can occur during this time of transition? Sometimes building permits come through, but sometimes an even better plot of land becomes available. Your situation might change, but you also may find that your organization needed the team bonding that occurred through the experience. Just because you’re expecting one outcome doesn’t mean there aren’t other good things to be found — even in the absence of what you’d hoped for.

Waiting rooms provide fertile ground for good pain.
You know what I mean ... the type of pain with a happy ending — the pain that’s unto something. The pain you feel after a long run or the way your brain hurts after a really good debate.

If there is additional time to be had during this interim season, gear up for future change by analyzing your existing structure, procedures and protocol. Take a long, objective look at your business model — even if it hurts. Are there ways to streamline your organization to better enter this new season of change? Isn’t your organization worth this kind of good pain?

Waiting rooms provide fertile ground for transformational growth.
This will not happen automatically. Time does NOT heal all wounds. People get bitter, angry, sarcastic, defensive. When you travel into unknown territory, there is danger. It’s a time that will determine who you are in the future. It’s a greenhouse for transformational growth, but it’s also where businesses go to die. You choose.

The space in our lives that we always resent most is the one where we have the least control. But our willingness to push ourselves beyond our current limits day in and day out, despite the discomfort it creates, the sacrifice of more immediate gratification, and the uncertainty that we’ll be rewarded for our efforts ... can end up creating infinite opportunity.

Trust in your company’s history, trust in your people, trust in your mission. And may your number be called soon.


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