“We should not let an illusion of urgency force us to make decisions before we are ready.” — Nelson Mandela


Patience is the number one attribute when it comes to becoming a great chef. You have to be patient because it takes a long time. It actually took me 20 years before I could execute it properly. – Chef Jason Atherton


  • Nelson Mandela was sent to prison in 1964. He spent 27 years as a political prisoner and was released in 1990. He brought an end to Apartheid and fostered a new peace in South Africa. He became the first president of South Africa in 1994, proclaimed a new constitution, and received the noble peace prize. If not familiar, then research his real life examples of patience and mental toughness. 

  • Ryann O’Toole turned professional in 2010 and won her first LPGA event in 2021 at the Scottish Open. It was her 228th professional start. Prior to the win, she had contemplated retiring from the game.

  • Stephanie Kwolek finished college in 1946 as her lifelong work as a chemist began. She specialized in creating a material as hard as steel, but lighter. Ten (10) years passed throughout the experiments and her fellow chemists had given up on the idea. At last, a serendipitous find helped her create the fist group of synthetic fibers known as Kevlar. Patience has literally saved thousands of lives.

  • Judy Heumann and Kitty Cone both were disability rights activists. They helped organize a sit-in at the federal building at 50 United Nations Plaza in San Francisco. The sit-in was orchestrated to protest the failure to enact section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. On April 5th, 1977 approximately 150 Americans with disabilities and allies occupied the federal building. They refused to leave until Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education, and welfare signed the regulations that affected the disability population. On April 28th, 1977, he signed the regulation. It still is the longest sit-in to date inside of a federal building. The sit-in was of historic importance and ultimately led to the Americans with Disabilities Act. This story can be witnessed in the documentary Crip Camp, which is part of our top Mental Toughness Documentaries. 

15 Real Life Examples of Patience


  • Bill Wilson’s parents abandon he and his sister as youths. He suffered from depression and as a twenty year old had his first alcoholic drink. He claimed, “I had found the elixir of life.” He experienced seventeen (17) years of destitute drunkenness and underwent four different hospital stays for alcohol addiction. His comeback resulted in his ultimate sobriety, founding Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and writing the Big Book of AA.  It has since sold over 30 million copies and Bill W. was considered one of the top 100 influential people of the 20th century.       

  • Jadav Payeng was a teenager when he came across hundreds of washed up snakes on the island of Majuli in India. We wrote about him in the book- NO ONE Gets There ALONE. Thus, in 1979, he began planting trees on the sand bar to combat the erosion. Over 40 years, He created a vast forest that now spans over 1300 acres. Today, the island houses over one hundred elephants, a hundred deer, five Royal Bengal tigers, wild boars, several species of birds, including vultures and pelicans, and many one-horned rhinoceroses. The forest is known as Molai forest and he has become known as the forest man of India. 

  • Ray Bourque entered the NHL in the 1979-80 season for the Boston Bruins. Throughout his 21-year hall of fame career, he held the record for most goals, assists, and points by a defenseman. During his final game in the NHL, he won the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. He played in 1,612 regular season and 214 playoff games before winning the ultimate prize, which was the longest span in the history of the Stanley Cup. His and others real life examples of patience and persistence helped him become an icon of mental toughness. 

  • Charles Darwin set sail on the ship HMS Beagle in 1831. It wasn’t until 1835 that he visited the Galapagos Islands and began to formulate his theory of evolution. It wasn’t until 1859, that he published the transformational book on evolution, On The Origin of Species. It took twenty eight years of persistence to complete. 

  • The America’s Cup was first competed in 1851. The New York Yacht Club (NYYC) would hold the prestigious sailing cup for over 132 years. It was quite simply the longest streak in sports. At one point, human hands did not touch the trophy itself in over 100 years. However, in 1983, the Royal Perth Yacht Club represented The Australia II, skippered by John Bertrand, and finally won The America’s Cup. Another incredible sports and mental toughness documentary

  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 1908, which was the same year the Model T ford made its debut. They became dubbed “cursed” and the lovable losers. After a 108-year hiatus, The Chicago Cubs won the World Series on November 3rd, 2016. Everyone seemed to experience these guys’ real life examples of patience. 

  • Prince Charles III became King Charles III of England at the age of 73. He was the longest serving heir-apparent in the history of the monarchy before becoming king.

  • Sergio Garcia turned professional in 1999. He had won to date 36 international professional golf tournaments. However, he was winless in major championships for his first 73 attempts since 1999. He finally won The Masters in 2017, his 74th major appearance. His ability to adapt and overcome his lack of mental toughness helped him win. 

  • Jack Campbell was a Hockey goaltender and was the 11th overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft. He played 2 NHL games over the next seven years with five different teams. He was mired in the minor leagues until 2018 when he won his first NHL game. He became a starter and was selected for the 2022 NHL All-star team, 12 years after being drafted

  • George Foreman won the boxing heavyweight championship in in 1973 by beating Joe Frazier. He retired thereafter losing the famous “rumble in the jungle” fight to Muhammad Ali. He has several real life examples of patience. But, in 1994, at the age of 45 years old and 10 months, the unranked Foreman beat Michael Moorer to regain the Heavyweight championship. It was twenty years after his first title and he stated,

“I was the best I ever was at age 46! Something I’d waited for, for years. Boxing, sparring, bag punch and roadwork were like a dream.” 


  • As characters in the bible, Job is seen as the model of patience. Job faces intense and immediate bouts of struggle and setbacks. He sits in silence for seven days and nights. Job 7:3 states, “So I have been allotted months of futility.” It doesn’t say exactly how long he suffers, but it is evident that he is patient with his afflictions.
  • Moses may be an individual in the bible who exhibited the most patience. He was certainly impatient at times as he struck the rock at the bequest of his people and against the will of God. But, the Israelites spent forty years in the desert wandering before reaching the promise land. 

real life examples of patience


 


dr rob bell speakerDr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates coach executives and professional athletes and is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included three winners on the PGA Tour, Indy Eleven, University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. 

Please Check out all the books and the mental toughness podcast - 15 Minutes of Mental Toughness as we interview expert athletes and coaches about Mental Strength and their Hinge Moment. New blog posts are published weekly.