Management Talk: Patience is a sensible investment

Years ago, when I was 14, I remember my father getting a carpenter home. He was non-charismatic at best and I couldn’t have fathomed him to be a master carpenter. There was this stack of wood (I believe it was teak) that I remember was lying in the attic for ages, which my father had bought through an auction, to be used for something when time and budget permitted., Business

11 Apr 2016 | By Suresh Ramakrishnan

The carpenter sat crouched in a corner and examined the pieces of wood one by one. It was rather fascinating to see him get the feel of the raw material - the length, the width, the feel. After a long wait, he finally broke the air of silence and said he could make a sofa out of it. While I was left guessing what made him sell this idea to my father, the deal was done and wrapped up in a jiffy.

The carpenter started working the next day. He chose a distant corner in our house as his workshop. Nothing happened in the first few days, just a bit of sizing, measurements, loads of brooding, some nap too and some sharpening of tools.

Even after a fortnight, the only thing visible was that the long wooden pieces had taken shorter forms of various sizes and were being bundled in some cluster that were not looking anything closer to parts of a sofa.

While I used to pay several visits through the day every day, to see things taking shape, he just smiled away at seeing the dejection on my face, understanding quite well of what I thought of him, that he possibly didn’t know the art and may have fooled my dad into believing in him. Little did I know what awaited me in the last ten days of his work in our house when he pieced everything together.

The shape it took left me pleasantly surprised. Everything that had happened over three weeks was the preparation for the final assembly. The beautiful sofa set exists even today more than three decades later. It hasn’t shown any sign of ageing or giving in. Is it the wood? Is it the craftsmanship? Or is it the patience and steadfastness to create a masterpiece?

The experience is nothing unusual. This is a process followed for creating many things on this planet, just that we tend to swing with our emotions through the journey. The resilient ones hang on until the end because they see the end right at the beginning.

It requires patience to

  • Understand your project and get all the pieces available as information together
  • Lay down the steps to the journey and not conclude the outcome based on assumed progress
  • Choose the right people who can lead projects and believe in them until the very end
  • All good things take time to come to shape. There are boundaries to the time and it is good to understand what they are

I have witnessed people losing patience standing at signals, waiting for their turn to come in a queue, waiting for a meal to be made in a restaurant, waiting for replies from clients or writing off a player based on his initial show at a game (cricket, for example), without giving a thought that everything goes through a process and somewhere patience is a sensible investment that pays rich dividends.

Suresh Ramakrishnan is the publisher at Haymarket Media (India).