ECUADOR: The School For Patience

Candy: Mariscal Sucre International Airport

Candy: Mariscal Sucre International Airport

I’ve been told several times that Ecuador is the perfect school for patience. Here in Ecuador there is what’s called, “Ecuadorian Time” and there is “Aleman Time.” (German Time)

In “Ecuadorian Time” if someone has scheduled a 9:00 am appointment and shows up the same day or in the same week they are considered to be “on time in Ecuador.”  It’s often quite maddening if you let it get to you.

So now I always ask when a deliver is supposed to be made or a service supposed to be performed, “So please tell me. Is this going to be delivered/installed “Ecuadorian Time” or  “Aleman Time.””  The people always smile and say, “Ecuadorian Time of course!” and then they roll their eyes and lift their palms to the sky.

So what’s a confirmed perfectionist doing living in a country like this? Well for starters, doing my best to not go insane from frustration. And, I’m learning PATIENCE whether I like it or not.  I’m also seeing in this culture that being a perfectionist on any level is truly not serving me and only making me crazy on a daily basis.

So here are 9 helpful Things I’ve learned in Ecuador as I do my best to overcome being a lifelong card carrying member of the Perfectionists Party:

1. Get Off Your Case

Being a perfectionist is impossible already, so I’m learning to cut myself some *#^@*%# slack!

2.  Making A Mistake Is Not The End Of The World

I’ve tried my best to consider the fact that making any mistake, personally, professionally, culturally here is not the end of the world.  (Yes. I know. Even though it feels like it at the time. And I hope I have not alienated my Ecuadorian neighbors forEVER.)

3. Do Something Fun

I’ve tried giving myself a break every once and awhile and go out and do something fun. Yes. I said fun. Not highly competitive, so I can criticize and beat myself up more afterwards for not being perfect. Fun. Just for the fun of it. Like a movie. Or a walk. Hard to criticize those.

4. Pull A Meal Out Of The Freezer Once A Week

Stop making every meal from scratch and thinking I have to make it match the cover of Gourmet magazine every night at dinner. Yup. Pull at least one dinner a week right out of the freezer. That’s right. Frozen Food. It won’t kill me. Or go get take out. And don’t light the candles. And use paper napkins instead of cloth ones. I pretend I’m on a picnic.

5. Read A Book Just For Fun

Read a book. Just for fun. FYI, this means:

  • No business books on how to improve yourself so you can learn to influence people or you can feel, once again, the pressure of having to make lots of money or else you will be one step closer to the poor house.
  • No biographies of successful famous people, like Warren Buffet, who is wonderful but none of us have his brain and you will only end up feeling like you should have known what he seemed to figure out so easily and end up feeling stupid as a result.
  • No self help books to help you become a better person.
  • No spiritual books so you can become an even better person, but will ultimately make you, the confirmed perfectionist, feel that you will never measure up to the Head Spiritual Honchos.

So, remember, this means, A Book. Fiction. Nothing to learn or grow from. No pressure to perform, succeed or fail. Just a plain old book that brings you distraction and joy.

I’ve read 15 books so far here in four months in Ecuador. All for fun. No self help, business or spiritual books. And it’s been really quite FUN I’m happy to report.

6. Be Present, Happy and At Peace Now

Try to be present, happy and at peace now. Right where I am. This minute. As the Dalai Lama has said, “If you think of this one
second, right now, this breath, what huge problem do you really have?”
You can’t think of one right? I can’t either. OK then.

7. Breathe Deeply

Well, come to think of it,  that “Be Here Now” advice is for all
of you other non perfectionists out there. The rest of us perfectionists have to struggle with that oh so challenging peace
of mind issue. We are busy right now, in fact, torturing ourselves about the past, the present AND the future.

But truthfully now, even the worst of us perfectionists could
possibly, hopefully, maybe manage one second, a day, of peace. I’ve actually personally even seen more than a second or two here in Ecuador and that should give everyone hope.

OK everybody. Now Breathe. No problems this second. Whoo Hoo!

8.  Make A Mistake On Purpose

Make a mistake. Deliberately. I saw that I didn’t die. It was great. You try it too and see how you don’t die. And take comfort in the fact that
even the great master rug and quilt makers weaved or stitched in a deliberate mistake somewhere into their rugs or quilts because they believed only God Is Perfect.

So think about this for a moment. You wouldn’t want to offend the “Big Almighty Ones Out There Somewhere” and steal some of “Their Thunder” by trying to be perfect in every moment, in every situation with every person, now would you?

So go ahead.

Make  a mistake.

Don’t rain on “Their” parade.

9. The Only Real Mistake Is An Experience We Don’t Learn From

And finally, the only real mistake in my life is a less than stellar experience that I don’t learn from.

So take heart all you perfectionists out there. You can do this. It may take some focused and concerted effort on your part, but you really can do this.

In fact, I tried these nine small steps and I actually liked it. Even in Ecuadorian Time. You, too, can do this thing. And you might even feel a little, eensy, weensy less pressure for a change.

And wouldn’t that be a relief? It has been for me in my daily school of patience here in Ecuador.

How do you develop patience in your own life?

Additional Links:

  • For More on the Life and Work of Mary Anne Dorward, please go to:
  • For Professional Speaking Coaching and Speech Writing, please go to: or for video
  • To Learn more about my book, “Words To Thrive By: Powerful Stories of Courage and Hope,” please go to: or  for video
  • To Buy The Book, go to Amazon:
  • Note: All photos in “Footprints in Ecuador: An American Woman’s Life Changing Journey” have been taken by Mary Anne Dorward. All photos and writing on this blog are protected under the U.S. Trademark: Words To Thrive By.  For more information, to schedule an inspirational speech or interview, please contact Mary Anne at



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