As I approach the counter to drop off my rental car, I see a lady sitting in the chairs behind me.
“I’m sorry, I rushed in here and did not see you. Did I break in line in front of you?”
“Oh no,” she said. “I have been patiently waiting right here since 1:00, my appointment time. “
I glance at my phone and see it is 4:03 p.m. “Wow, it’s after four o’clock, you are REALLY patient.”
She then explained, “Well, when the car assigned to me for my rental today was returned this morning, it had been wrecked. They offered me every other car here, but I needed the full-size trunk space for our family trip tomorrow. So I have been patiently waiting as they are working to find me a substitute.”
“That is patience, WAY more than I have,” I replied.
“Well, thanks. I’ve learned over the years that disciplined patience usually pays off in the long run rather than rushing into another problem. You rarely see anyone with patience these days, but it’s not something you are born with, it’s something you develop as a skill and discipline.”
My ears are burning now as I realize this sweet lady is giving me a masterclass in leadership and the value of patience. I also know this is certainly one of my weaknesses. I have plowed ahead into so many new problems trying to avoid one.
She went on to say, “I have watched so many people come in today and be ugly or rush to conclusions when they didn’t immediately get what they wanted. I feel sorry for them at times. You watch, I will get the big car that I need. It pays to be patient.”
There are so many takeaways for us this week.
- Patience is a valuable skill and too often overlooked as a leadership virtue. We can learn the discipline to be more patient.
- We can learn leadership lessons from anyone at any time.
- Some of the best lessons are the ones that we observe. As I waited at the rental agency, I watched this lady continue to encourage the rental staff as she saw others demonstrate unkindness — a true mark of a leader.
When the agent returned from inspecting my rental, he probably wondered where the impatient, hurried, curly-gray-haired guy was, as the wonderful insights from this lady had transformed my attitude. Thank you so much and I hope you got the biggest car in the fleet.