I was recently talking to a fellow business person about hobbies and we discovered we both competed in triathlons. As we talked a bit more, I mentioned that my favorite hobby, however, is musky fishing. She said, “Boy, you must really be patient!” Muskies are sometimes known as “the fish of 10,000 casts,” and while that might be a bit of a stretch, most days on the water you don’t catch a fish. I chuckled at the irony, because if you ask my wife or the people I work with, they would all say I am very impatient. I started thinking about the phrase, “patience is a virtue.” Is this true? Sometimes, but in the business world, I think it might be the opposite.

In business, everybody tries to do a good job. But one thing that separates star performers from others is a lack of patience, or a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency not only affects what people do and how they do it, it affects what people get done and how much they get done.

In sales, a sense of urgency is crucial.  The impatient salesperson knows they have goals to meet and exerts whatever effort is required to meet or exceed those goals. When the economy is good and things are going well, rather than simply meeting their goals, this person seeks to fully capitalize on the window of opportunity. In a tough environment - such as the recent economic period – that person puts pressure on themselves to make things happen. Instead of giving up because business activity is down, the impatient employee realizes they are going to have to do more to get the required result and therefore increases their effort to “make something happen.”

Another thing I’ve noticed is that people with a sense of urgency provide customer service at a higher level than the average employee. They return calls and emails from clients immediately and enthusiastically looking forward to the opportunity to serve. They proactively take care of clients’ needs. They go the extra mile and the company benefits from the exceptional customer service they provide, increasing client loyalty - the critical ingredient for which all businesses strive.

In many situations outside of the business world (parenting, teaching, and coaching come to mind), patience is required and critical to success. But in the business world, I believe impatience and a sense of urgency differentiate average performance and average client experiences from exceptional ones. That sense of urgency should be sought and discerned in the interviewing and hiring process as it is a key ingredient in making an organization great.