Waiting the Army Way: Lessons for Business and Life on Patience

“He that can have Patience, can have what he will-” Benjamin Franklin

 

As a 2LT in 1979

How do we pace and position ourselves to wait?
My time in the Army taught me a bit about this. The “Hurry up and wait” mantra proved to be an enduring life lesson for me as an entrepreneur and author. See my story below excerpted from my book, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey about one of those times of waiting.
However long the night, the dawn will break.” African proverb

The nights were dark and cold— I longed to be in my bunk. But tonight I was on guard duty, another requirement in Army basic training. My route was synchronized: Walk the perimeter, stop at the barricades, turn and move in the other direction. Weapon on the ready—constantly carrying this M16 rifle made it feel even heavier, tiring me even more than the day’s busyness already had.
It didn’t matter, I had to go on to finish the shift— my general orders were clear:
“I will guard anything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”
Other lines I had memorized to state if challenged: “Halt! Who goes there? Advance to be recognized.” I was to be firm and brave, alert for whatever came. Hmm, hmm. Once the approaching person was properly identified, they could pass on by. Then I’d keep walking— programmed for situational awareness.
My shift would be over at 7a.m. Once the sun arched over the horizon I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be released from this assignment.
I had to keep telling myself to stay on task—there was a reason for this too. If I wanted to be an officer, this was one of the steps. Pull the duty for the privilege to get a commission to be a leader.
Waiting tests our patience, particularly when we’re just ready for situations to be over, or for news to come, or for something we want to come to fruition. I’d also learned a lot about waiting from my family—for opportunity, laws to change, and a better day.
Maybe some life orders can help.
“You will have what you’re supposed to have when you’re supposed to have it,” are words I would constantly say to my ‘ready to be grown’ nephew during his teen years.
He wanted to know when he could have my car or if he could be a part of my business— asking me all of this when he was 15. Even though now he is an adult, I will periodically utter that statement to him to emphasize the delayed gratification concept imbedded in our faith: “Wait for the appointed time.”
I make sure I say those same words to myself, particularly when I’m at a halt—an unwelcome slow period in business or my social life. Life challenges me then. Staying in motion while singing phrases from a few of my favorite gospel songs give me weapons of praise:
“Lord, help me to hold out until my change comes…”
“He’s an on time God…”
“Just wait on the Lord and be of good courage…”
It’s important for me to believe that a Master Order exists and new life construction is on the way. Encouraged, I know God is in charge—my heavy load-bearer.
Stay on guard, shout down that big wall and let it tumble away. Then we’re ready for a new assignment—a change at the right time.

 
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over it became a Butterfly.”
Unknown

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About Deborah L. Parker

Deborah L. Parker is a sought after speaker on issues of leadership, personal development, career management, communications and diversity through her company The DPJ Training Group. She has also written on these topics for business publications in the Metropolitan DC and Phoenix AZ communities. Deborah is the author of 5 non-fiction books on life choices, workplace problem-solving, leadership and career management to include a well-received motivational memoir, Navigating Life’s Roadways: Stories of Insight from My Odyssey and Inspiration for Your Journey, which chronicles her setbacks and successes around work, family, culture and relationship issues. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from The College of William and Mary and M.A. in Human Resource Development from George Mason University. Deborah gleans learnings from her varied careers as an Army officer as well as in corporate operations and human resources positions with ExxonMobil and Booz Allen Hamilton to cement her presentations. She is a member of the Loudoun County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Chamber of Commerce and Metro DC Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development.

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