Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Hockey Life: Patience

It's funny, if you think about it. After more than 27 years of dealing with deadlines, you'd think one of my better traits, if I have a single one, would be an inordinate amount of patience. Sadly, though, nothing could be further from the truth.

To me, the clock is always ticking. Doesn't matter if it's at work, waiting for that last breaking-news story to arrive, or at home, sitting in the car, ready to go, as someone else is inside the house, in my opinion, simply dubbing around and delaying our departure. As long as I can remember, I've always wanted to get going -- about five minutes ago.

For better or worse, that's who, and how, I am.

Oh, sure, I thought parenting and Colin's hockey journey would break me of this bad habit. And, in some ways, each has. Success is measured in moments. Failure, too. Still, though, there are times when I take a step back. At times, it has been more like taking a giant leap backward.

Over the years, in my attempt to become a more patient person, I've learned not to let situations outside my control bother me. Why get worked up, I'd reason, when someone else is calling the shots? Doesn't make a lick of sense, does it? To some degree, that approach has dulled my sharp edge.

But, when I have a say in the situation --something I work hard at to put myself in that position -- I have little time for anything that keeps me from moving forward. As a result, and this is often a conscious decision, I can be abrupt. Sometimes, or so my tactic goes, it takes stepping on toes to get things done.

Lately, though, I've found the toes I'm stepping upon are my own. And, get this, it's all about my lack of patience.

For most of the past three years, thanks to a downturn in the print journalism industry, I've had to work 60 to 65 hours a week, between the paper and my freelance efforts, just to maintain our hockey lifestyle and, on occasion, add to our bottom line. This isn't a complaint. I'd rather spend my time being productive, rather than sitting around watching TV, staring into a computer monitor or, really, wasting my time.

Earlier this summer, however, my freelance opportunities started drying up. A certain company, whose name is likely familiar to only a handful, kept shooting itself in the foot. Questionable operating practices and, ahem, committing a cardinal sin rocked the operation. Ultimately, these led to a circling of wagons for a handful of shell-shocked workers. As an "independent contractor," I was left on the outside looking in.

Rather than sit back, though, I took a proactive approach, offering my services to any willing (and well-paying) bidder. Though the bites have been few, enough to count on only one hand, I've managed to draw the interest of one big fish. I'll learn, too, in the days ahead, if another might be on the line.

In the case of the first opportunity, a project I've been working on for more than a month now, we're getting down to nitty-gritty time. We've had our meeting. I've shown my abilities. An answer, I believe, will arrive within the next week or so. As much as I wanted the answer two weeks ago, I'm willing to wait. It's that good of an opportunity.

The second opportunity, which is more in the formulation stage, represents a chance to reconnect with an old junior college buddy. In a way, that holds more appeal. I'd like the opportunity to get in, so to speak, on the ground floor and help build a business.

In both cases, though, I know full well there are no guarantees. Each, in an instant, could disappear. But these exercises, if you will, have taught me to be more willing to wait for the right opportunity. Individually or together, should time and effort allow, these opportunities represent a new path, one that could last much, much longer than my current one.

So, yes, patience is a virtue. Maybe, just maybe, I'll learn that this time.

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