The Power of Perseverance
The rigors of today’s competitive business climate push even the most seasoned leaders to their limits. No organization is immune to setbacks. Many top business leaders agree that life is a constant string of adversities—the new normal. Some, however, are ill-suited for it and pay a dear price.
Leaders achieve success through their talent, intelligence, flexibility and wisdom. Those who overcome the odds often point to an even more powerful trait: perseverance. Many of today’s top captains of commerce believe it’s the key to winning the race—more important than skill, more vital than past experience, notes management consultant Steve Tobak in What Makes a Successful Entrepreneur? Perseverance (Entrepreneur.com, January 25, 2016).
But what about leaders who lack the necessary stamina? What happens to those who don’t know how they’re going to manage, day in and day out, under the heaviest of loads? Are they simply destined to fail in a cruel world?
The answer is no, according to Dr. Angela Duckworth, author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (Scribner, 2016). Perseverance can be developed from within. If you’re a leader who’s gained a foothold on stamina, you can forge a culture with it.
What Is Perseverance?
More than simply trying hard, perseverance is a gut-generated determination to not give in and never give up. It comes from a spirit that refuses to accept the failure of quitting. A leader who perseveres stands ready to endure for the long haul.
Successful accomplishers are always chasing something greater: goals that are difficult to achieve. They feel they have something to prove—to themselves and/or others. They have direction, know what they want and hate falling short of it.
Leaders with perseverance strive to excel. As Duckworth puts it, perseverance is a satisfaction with being unsatisfied. Dogged leaders continually measure how far they’re willing to push themselves and how much they want to win.
Do you find yourself frequently changing course midstream, altering your goals as you go? Are you prone to disillusionment when things go awry? Do you lose interest in long-term projects? If so, you may lack perseverance. Your organization may consequently lose money, people and direction when situations get tough.
Alternatively, persevering leaders grow their interests and remain focused on them. Their consistent pursuit of gains moves them through the roadblocks that stymie more passive leaders. When you persevere, you’re not as bothered by setbacks or letdowns. You’re motivated to embrace and overcome them.
There are myriad business success stories about leaders who had a persevering spirit and led their companies through crisis, bankruptcy or startup hardship. Steve Jobs and Lee Iacocca had the stamina to save Apple and Chrysler, respectively, from bankruptcy. Jeff Bezos endured the long startup struggle at Amazon. Dan Hesse led Sprint out of the gaping jaws of killer competitors. Not all stories are this dramatic, but the principles of perseverance equally apply. Every company faces trials that call for persevering leaders.
The positive leader
Positive leaders know they can improve their circumstances. They envision a better future and wholeheartedly pursue it. They embrace challenges, knowing they’ll learn something significant.
Positive leaders see a benefit in each step taken, even when some are backward. They’re confident that diligent effort pays off, and they persevere through storms because they know there’s sunshine on the other side.
A leader with a critical or pessimistic view will never muster the determination to plow through a crisis. If you lack positivity, you probably feel a force dragging you down, without understanding why. Fortunately, this can be addressed.
Become more self-aware, and catch yourself having negative thoughts or moods. Try to determine why you have these feelings, and create positive alternatives. A seasoned leadership coach can be of great benefit. Coaching accentuates the positive and leans toward it. Focus on the ways a situation can work instead of getting mired in negatives.
Dr. Maynard Brusman
Consulting Psychologist & Executive Coach
Trusted Leadership Advisor
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