While we justly celebrate creativity and intelligence, I am a strong believer that perseverance is the base ingredient of success. The world is not nearly as friendly or fair as we imagine in our Peter Pan dreams. The reality is that business, like life itself, is a contact sport – brutally hard, bumpy and exhausting. We fight and struggle to overcome challenges only to find new ones quickly replace them. We certainly need ingenuity to solve any given problem, but before that we must have the tenacity and intestinal fortitude to rise each morning emboldened enough to fight the good fight for another day. As Walter Eliot once said, “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”
We must have our eyes wide open to the challenges that stand in our way, but the moment we become overwhelmed the game is up. Perseverance is not about being oblivious to the challenges, but rather being able to see the goal beyond them. And like any other skill, the ability to persevere is something that must be constantly practiced, honed and perfected. As leaders, perseverance is absolutely essential because regardless of our genius or planning, shit happens. For me personally, it is not the next problem that I fear as much as my old nemesis – the Chicken Little. I get that people get down, tired and frustrated. It happens to us all, but the Chicken Little is different. The Chicken Little is not content to simply lose faith and rant a bit. No, the Chicken Little must drag down and frustrate everyone around them with their proclamations that the sky is falling and that the end is near. As a team tries to muster the energy for the next fight, the Chicken Little will arrive on the scene to highlight and exaggerate every challenge and every failing. It is exhausting and demoralizing.
We all know the Chicken Littles of the world. They are hideous and horrible beasts, but alas I suppose they are part life. Indeed they are just one of the many hurdles we must overcome along the way to success. Rationally I get it, but damn I wish the Chicken Littles would just go to hell so we can get on with taking the next hill.
Ty J. Shattuck,
Follow on Twitter: @tyshattuck