Let patience be your guiding light

By Younas Chaudhary

When I would sip hot milk as a young boy, my mother would say to me, “Be patient, sip the milk slowly.” And indeed, the slower I tasted the warm milk, the more I enjoyed it and the longer it would last. This principle of taking your time, with patience, is so true in life generally.

I learned patience in a culture that emphasized the values of living in a joint family system and making decisions collectively. In our village, there were several tiny creeks (khala), and as I would jump over them, my anxious grandma would say, “Be careful, the water is deep in the small creeks.” Likewise, whenever there was a mile-long race at my school, our coach would advise us students to start slowly and steadily and to exercise patience, saying that the winner would be whoever ran the race with the most steadiness and patience. And it was true so often that runners would sprint the first-quarter mile, then lose stamina and end up walking the rest of the way!

Patience is an uncommon, God-given gift, and it requires discipline to practice, because when someone demands an urgent response from you, giving a hasty answer could nevertheless be unwise.

Even in the face of perceived urgency, it is beneficial to take a step back and think things through before making a decision. It is a good practice to ask for some time to sleep over it. When we are impatient and overreact, our decisions often cause long-term damage or a loss.

In negotiating deals, try to patiently work out an agreement that favors your interests but also benefits all parties, especially when you are pressured to give a quick answer or meet a tight deadline.

In one of my good production purchase deals, a patient approach paid off well. Our company was the runner-up in the bid process, and the seller was working to close a deal with the winning bidder, but I had a hunch it would fall through. We really wanted to buy that deal, so we waited patiently. I called up the broker every couple of days and inquired whether the deal had closed. After a few weeks, the broker told me that the prospective buyer who had won the bid reneged, and we could purchase it. My patience had worked, and we purchased that production at a lower price than we had anticipated!

As we age, we get more patient and forgiving. Over a decade ago, a bright young employee of our company was caught embezzling oilfield equipment from one of our oilfield properties. This young man had a bright future ahead of him. Unfortunately, he wanted to become rich quickly. He had been stealing equipment for some time without anyone’s knowledge until one day a sub-contractor called our office and reported the theft to us. That led to police investigations, and they found that the employee had stolen over a million dollars’ worth of equipment.

He was caught, he confessed to the theft, he was convicted of a felony, and  the court was on track to give him a stiff sentence of around 30 years jail time and monetary restitution to our company. I felt bad considering his young age, so we wrote a letter to the court and requested the court to give him probation, instead of the jail sentence. The court agreed and gave him 10 years of probation and ordered him to pay restitution to my company.

Recently the 10 years passed, but he had made only partial payments to my company. The court therefore was looking to extend his probation by an additional 10 years, as he owed my company over half a million dollars of restitution, including interest. This made me think hard about this man’s future for 10 more years, his older parents, and their family, and I decided to close this matter by forgiving him.

While I was quite upset and angry about his behavior a decade ago and wished to recover all my losses with interest, though fortunately in time I became more patient and thought it through, and I am happy that I chose the path to simply let it go and forgive him.

Over the years, I’ve purposely mastered mental techniques to test the limits of my patience. For instance, in my younger days, I would be very impatient while waiting in line for anything. Today, I pause, think about the reason why the line is not moving, take a deep breath, and wait.

As human beings, we always have the tendency to rush.  But if you avoid this rush, you will realize that thoughtful thinking can bring you joy and take you far.

Lastly, the reverse is true when a failure to exercise patience can often land us in big trouble. I should admit that my own impatience has cost me lots of financial losses and wasted time. For instance, when one of my main homes got destroyed in Hurricane Harvey, my children repeatedly told me not to rebuild it. I did not get an insurance recovery, but I was adamant and wanted to bring it back to its old glory and invested a lot of money in rebuilding the huge house. Four years later, the house remains empty, and there is no one staying there, as I moved to a different house in a more convenient, and centralized location. My impatience though it was merely the result of natural human emotions, cost me a lot of time, effort, and money.

Here are a few tips for you to be patient the next time you get irritated standing in the coffee line!

. Patience is hard, and it takes a lot of practice.

. A higher power will sometimes advise you to be patient; listen to that advice.

. Be steadfast in your decisions, and never let fear make you impatient.

. Torn to make a decision with a tight timeline? Sleep over it, get clarity, think of different sides of the issue, be patient, be forgiving and decide with an open heart.

. Trust your gut, be logical, and practice patience when making a decision.

. Know that when you look back on life, your most patient decisions will be the ones that give you the greatest joy.

. Trust yourself, and your patience with a forgiving approach to others will yield positive results.

You can read more by purchasing my best-selling memoir “From Dirt Roads to Black Gold.” Note that 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of this book will help people in need through my foundation, the YBC Foundation.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated.  Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.