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Patience can be a virtue on and off the court.

Patience is underrated. This insight came to me the other day as I helped a buddy of f the floor during a noon pick-up basketball game (yes, I had deposited him there).

I had my hand on the ball, his shot never got above his shoulders, but my arm was across his shoulder and face as well for the foul.

Fouls in basketball are part of the game (though like Christmas, it is better to give than receive), but I try to avoid fouling other players. As I analyzed the play it was clear that with some patience, I wouldn't have fouled him and had a good chance of blocking the shot.

I was in good position, knew where the ball was headed (toward the basket! and should have waited a split second longer and blocked it over my opponent's head without a foul.

As I pondered this insight on the way back to my office. I realized that patience is also underrated and underpractised in the business world.

Now don't get me wrong. There is a time for quick and decisive action, especially in our fast-moving economy. But there are also times for patience.

Have patience in the market. Nine times out of 10, markets work. They may not work perfectly (especially when the government interferes) or quickly, but they do work in the vast majority of cases.

Remember the Northwest electricity crisis of about seven years ago? Prices skyrocketed for electricity. In response, diesel generator projects sprung up that could profitably produce electricity at times of high demand. But the market adjusted, prices came down and the generators no longer could produce power profitably. Just because markets are slow to react doesn't mean they won't adjust.

The current run up in oil prices falls into the same category, in nay opinion. Oil is now trading at about $25 below its high. The reasons are obvious: Rapidly rising prices changed behavior.

On the supply side, oil that wasn't worth recovering when a barrel of oil sold at $50 becomes profitable when the price exceeds $100. Plus people find cheaper alternatives. On the demand side, people are using less oil due to the price spike. People drive less and switch to more fuel efficient vehicles. But the changes aren't always quick. How long does it take to build a nuclear plant or build a new oil rig? The decision and purchase of a more fuel-efficient vehicle is also not typically (lone overnight.

Have patience in your plan. Change does not happen overnight. Whether it is a new line of business, marketing plan or new internal procedures, the biggest mistake you can make is to give up on the new plan too soon.

Get a good plan and give it time to work before going to Plan B. To go from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C in short order due to lack of results will sap employee morale. Create a good plan, believe in it, and provide the funding and other support it needs and the TIME it needs before trying something different.

Have patience with people. People are people, not machines (which also fail). People make mistakes, have rough spots in their life that impact their work performance and let us down.

To blow up at a co-worker, customer, or supplier almost never is a good move.

Patience is especially necessary with change. Change is hard for people. We all like our comfort zone.

We recently changed our e-mail program at the Chamber and consequently, my screen looks different. I hated it for the first day or two. Now it is okay. In a month, if you tried to change it back to the way it was I would hate the new look of it all over again.

The bottom line is you need people to be successful in business. Treat people right with patience while balancing the fact that you need to get the job done and if they can't do their part, you need to get a new employee, partner, supplier or customer.

Try bringing a little more patience into your business and personal life; you might be surprised by the results.

Craig karsen is the executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce. Prior to joining the chamber, he practiced law in Wenatchee for 12 years, including six years as part or sole owner of his law firm. He can be reached at 662-2116.
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Title Annotation:OPINION
Author:Larsen, Craig
Publication:Wenatchee Business Journal
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1U9WA
Date:Aug 1, 2008
Words:741
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