Saturday, October 16, 2010

Key to Success: Persistence

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Calvin Coolidge

Persistence. Determination. Will. Perseverance.


These are key difference makers between individuals and teams that succeed, and those that do not succeed. A persistent mental attitude is powerful. Military commanders work to develop this sort of mentality into their recruits throughout basic training, because they understand its potency on the field of battle. That same potency also benefits every successful person and organization.

In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, the corporate leaders that took their companies to exceptional levels of success were analyzed to identify the characteristics these leaders all shared. Jim Collins referred to this group as “Level 5 Leaders”, and there were two traits shared by all of them. One of these was a very strong will and persistence.

As a country, the U.S. gained a sense of persistence after the 9/11 tragedy. As a world leader we knew it was necessary, though it did not change the intensity of the horror, the sadness, or the trauma the events caused.

Martin Luther King, like many historical heroes, was persistent in order to share the power of his vision—no matter what amount of ignorance or violence stood in his way.

The NASA program exists today because its members have been persistent through many setbacks. The Kennedy administration had a vision and a goal to put a man on the moon. Many thought that vision was grandiose and unachievable. But in 1969, the vision became a reality. Later, NASA would see its most tragic setbacks with the losses of the space shuttle Challenger and the space shuttle Endeavor.

Captain Chesley Sullenberger was piloting US Airways flight 1549 when immediately after taking off from New York’s Laguardia Airport, a flock of geese left his airliner without engine power. His persistence kept Captain Sullenberger focused on his emergency procedures, and he successfully landed his powerless aircraft into the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.

These are all examples of exceptional people who were persistent and achieved amazing results in extreme situations. However, I would submit to you that their persistence is required in everyday life and business. I believe that every person involved in the above examples always demonstrated persistence. However, we saw their real capability because they were faced with adverse, challenging, life, or vision threatening situations.

We are all currently faced with unprecedented changes, many of which many are out of our direct control. Recovery and regaining success in life and business will come because of our conscious decision to be persistent.

Make the commitment now to do what is necessary to make your personal life and your professional life successful. Look at each of your challenges as an opportunity for success. Use your talent, experience, and education to your advantage. Develop a plan that leverages your background and experience. Review your every plan and your mix of activities and make sure they are the right activities. Reach out for assistance as often as needed.

Make the commitment to be persistent… it’s the difference between success and mediocrity.


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