#13: Patience ("No Bare Feet and Other Lessons From the Caddie Yard")

Jan 29, 2024 by Mike Magluilo
Lesson #13: Patience

Hey hey outta my way the new year starts today. 
Gonna make a resolution start a revolution 
Be everything I want to be. 
I can quit it gonna stick with it 
Look at me I did it. 
Made it all the way to February.

I’ve been thinking a lot about patience as the season of best intentions comes to an end. 

When I was a kid, patience required white knuckling my way through self-control and sacrifice. How long ‘til we get there when can we leave sit still be quiet say goodbye to grandma only one dear school’s out for summer happy birthday happy hump day wait in the car I’m on the phone countdown to Christmas let your sister go first. 

When I was thirteen, I almost quit caddying after my first few loops. I got antsy waiting around the caddyshack. I made too many mistakes. The pace of the game tortured me—all the practice swings, the reading of putts, each player taking their shot in turn. 

But my parents kept pushing me out the door in the morning. The caddie master started to recognize me. I made one less mistake each day. I learned how much Honor Caddies make. I didn’t want to work indoors, punch a clock and take orders from a boss. 

A little breathing room kept me from quitting and helped me make the most satisfying decision of my childhood. 

Caddying taught me patience is more than will power. Patience is the way some people make decisions.

As a naturally impulsive person, I’ve always admired patient people. I’m not talking about people who take a long time to take action or people who wait long enough before responding to a problem that someone else comes along and fixes it for them. I’m talking about people who repeatedly choose satisfying responses to the big and small events in life.

How do patient people choose satisfaction? The patient people I know have clarified the type of people they want to be upfront. They value principles like self-control, resilience and delayed gratification.

I back-tested this approach against some impatient decisions I’ve made in my own life. My choice of high school, college and major. Friendships pursued and abandoned. Places I’ve moved to and from. Jobs I’ve taken and left. Investments I’ve made and sold. Things I’ve bought and given away. Paint colors, clothes. My reactions to others, especially my kids. 

No satisfying decision ever came to me impatiently. 

The impatient choice is the familiar and comfortable one. The promise of instant gratification. The Sponsored Item, the one served up by the algorithm, the combo meal, the brand on the middle shelf, the knock-off delivered tomorrow at half-price with free returns. Who has time for books these days? Eating so fast you forget to taste your food. The shortcut, the hack, the gadget, the gimmick, the influencer discount code. Why’s there a Starbucks in Italy? Buy now pay later, live for the moment, mañana. Keep your phone handy when hanging out with an old friend. The kids make me wanna scream. Who still reads newspapers? 

We’re all born impulsive, but patience is a skill that can be learned when you stop trying to white knuckle it. 

Imagine the sort of parent, friend, citizen, manager, employee you want to be then practice responding to life like that person. Weigh your options against your principles, and the satisfying choices filter themselves out every time. 

So, try something different this year. Consider a resolution that’s not just for January. Practice patience, and you can be the person you want to be all year long.