Originally published October 20, 2011
A parent who had watched me nearly crumble under pressures of competition from another after-school services provider at her child’s school asked me, “How come I don’t see you signing up more parents?” I told her the well had pretty much run dry; it seemed every parent I approached had been signed by the “smarter” provider. She smiled as she encouraged me not to accept defeat on the premise that I was up against stiff competition. She told me, “Well, don’t give up. Keep at it!” While not a new lesson for a seasoned business owner, it was indeed a refreshing one. Business owners – and pretty much every other kind of leader – must be able to pursue their goals now matter how much energy and commitment is required.
Aspiring business owners have to be particularly careful not to lose sight of their goals for all the energy, effort, time, money, and other resources they pour into their ideas. It is easy for them to forget where they are going and how much they really want to get there when obstacles confront them at every turn. Being able to chase dreams into reality calls for a great deal of focus and strength to withstand attitudes, relationships, and circumstances that threaten to impose failure.
This is where a person’s stick-to-itiveness (can I even say that?) plays its most emphatic role. When you doubt yourself (self-confidence), make up your mind that your idea works. When you’re not sure just what you want (goal-setting), step back far enough and long enough to regroup. Take that time away from the grind to clarify what you really want. Set realistic, attainable goals that bring your business best and brightest ideas to fruition. Then make them happen.
When you’re unsure just how to go about achieving those goals you’ve set (planning), take time to determine what steps you must take – and in what order your should take those steps – to reach objectives and fulfill goals. Finally, when you feel your “world” closing in on you with no apparent way around challenges, forge ahead with confidence in yourself and in your well-constructed plan. Doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Get help. Find resources. Connect with experts and supporters. Surround yourself with positive cheerleaders. Reach out to others who remind you to keep going. And keep going!
Persistence is the mark of the go-getter. It’s a common misconception that a go-getter must be a go-getter-alone. Nah! Banish that thought now! Ambitious go-getters accomplish goals and realize dreams because they wisely connect and surround themselves with resources and supporters who help them go get what they really want in life. Persistence, then, is not a loner game. True, entrepreneurs have to possess this skill themselves and not rely on others to be persistent FOR them. Still, savvy leaders know that what helps keep them going is understanding when to use a lifeline, whether it comes in the form of eliminating wrong choices, calling a friend, or asking the audience.
And who are those other two traits walking beside persistence, hand-in-hand? Why, they would be patience and determination. Sticking to a project or plan requires vast patience. Sometimes the results you seek don’t come immediately. They’re not guaranteed overnight delivery, like some other packages. The budding business entrepreneur quickly learns to adapt to changing surroundings and upsetting circumstances. In essence, anyone building a business must possess a great deal of patience to see results they want. And even patience does not work alone in that way.
Determination, a trait that affords its possessors great latitude in bearing an idea to term, summons all the resolve a person can muster. This trait marks the difference between people who merely know what they want and those who know what they want, why they want it, how they intend to get, and who they will take with them to get it.
Surely, many of you readers have heard stories of famous authors whose manuscripts were rejected time and again, sometimes with very harsh rejection letters. And how many of you have read about inventors, investors, owners, and other great leaders whose earliest attempts to succeed were thwarted at every turn? How did they endure such hardships and suffering? (Well, most of us wonder WHY they endured it.) What made them go on to new heights in their lives and careers? Since you know that’s a rhetorical question, I won’t type the answer “persistence.”
Where do you stand in the persistence arena? On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being uber-persistent, how do you rate? Be honest. Be fair. Be candid. Be prepared to take a bow if you’re in those upper registers and to do some personal development if you’re hovering over 1 like a stalker with a backstage pass at a rock concert. No matter how much or how little work you need in being persistent, please feel free to share your ideas, stories, experiences, insights, feelings, thoughts, and helpful resources. Use comments liberally!