There are many common threads among the most successful people in the world.
Not the ones that have inherited fortunes.
I’m more interested in the ones that are self made. Those that started at one point and took their lives to new heights thanks to hard work, persistence and a little luck.
One common thread, especially in ventures that require the efforts of many people, is patience.
Not just patience with the growth of a business, but patience with people.
The old saying about someone in this sense is that they suffer fools gladly.
What Does It Mean…
Some seem to believe there is a double meaning behind the word “fools” in the saying. On one hand, the fools would seem to be those that are stupid. But on the other, the fools might be those that aren’t willing to be patient with those they find to be stupid.
We all probably know people that lose their patience with fools. Or at least with people they perceive to be fools. The parent that doesn’t let their child figure out how to tie their own shoes. Or the child that doesn’t let their parent figure out how to type in the URL for a website.
Or maybe it’s the boss that berates an employee for making a mistake. Or the employee that makes fun of a coworker that makes a mistake.
The saying for these people is that they don’t suffer fools gladly. In other words, they’re not patient or are unwilling to spend their time with people they believe to be of lesser ability or knowledge.
The Learning Mentality
I’ve read a number of business biographies. Some of my favorites are about successful self-made businesspeople and often they have the ability to suffer fools gladly.
In fact, they don’t really see others as being fools. In a way, they see themselves as fools. At least when it comes to certain areas of life.
The most successful entrepreneurs seem to take a learning mentality with them throughout life. They certainly feel confident in what they know, but they also look for new perspectives. They look for outside thoughts. They don’t always act on those outside thoughts, but they look for them and take what they feel is valuable.
In order to have a learning mentality in life you have to be willing to see what everyone has to contribute.
The trouble with not suffering fools gladly is seeing that someone is different, in most cases seemingly less smart, and dismissing them without getting to know them.
I had a great boss who was really good at being patient with people. The boss was really smart in a lot of ways. But he would take time to visit employees. He would ask questions. He would ask them how they were doing things. Not necessarily to tell them how to do it better, but to learn more about the company he was operating.
Here was the boss of the company, seemingly the smartest person in the building, going around and looking to learn from even the most entry-level employee. And not just about their work, but about their life.
Everybody Has Something To Contribute
The more I go through life the more I realize I don’t know. It’s a big world out there. I have my areas of life that I’m interested in and feel confident in my ability and knowledge. But even as I encounter people that don’t share that same knowledge I learn that they have their own areas of expertise. And if I’m open to learning, everybody has something to contribute.
A key to being a leader is to put yourself in the position of the fool. Go into situations with people with the outlook that you can learn. Because if you don’t suffer fools, you’re probably the fool yourself.