I’ve noticed the concept of persistence recently in posts/articles about leadership. Some have used the term relentlessness, implying a level of doggedness beyond the usual “I’m not quitting until this garage is clean” level of commitment. In our company we have used the term “leadership courage” indicated by your willingness to stick up for a position you believe in even when most/all are not agreeing with you (of course we expect our leaders to express themselves respectfully).
Here’s a recent post by friend and former UNLV basketball coach (and all around good guy) Dave Rice on the subject:
Mr. Whitcomb died in 1916, so clearly this idea is not new. I’m sure persistence meant something a bit different in his time than it does today, like struggling to survive through boat rides across the Atlantic and in sweatshops. And in the generations before Mr. Whitcomb I’m sure it was similarly more primordial – like chasing dinner even when you couldn’t feel your feet (no option to just stop your morning run and call an Uber in the 1700s…).
We often want to put persistence into contexts of time-bound activities, like projects or wars. Or relatively time-bound activities like managing through a recession or battling a treatable disease.
But what about “indefinite” types of challenges. Coach Rice didn’t realize that a couple of days after he posted this one of his players would be shot and killed, certainly giving his family and others affected something to persevere through for the rest of their lives. Alcoholics rightfully say they fight their affliction every day, literally one day at a time, for their entire lives.
Are you up for that type of perseverance versus the typical “I can outlast this snobby kid at work for the promotion” or “we will come out on top in this competitive mobile phone market” when in reality the outcomes aren’t as drastic as we make them out to be?
I truly believe life is a “survival of the fittest” not a “battle of the fittest.” Life is the ultimate marathon not a sprint. To succeed we have to be willing to fight through a lot of bad stuff. Could be financial woes, could be family illnesses or accidents, could be relationship failures. Those who are willing to risk looking stupid, willing to get up after tripping on the stairs and just keep going despite the cool kids laughing at you; those are my kind of people. And those are the people I believe will achieve the greatest level of success in life, meaning they will find real happiness in their successes and build the most meaningful relationships including with themselves.