A theme of persistence has been seemingly constantly in my brain the last few weeks. Whether it’s thoughts about sticking with a project that has yet to bear fruit, writing regularly, eating healthy through stressful times, or just staying focused on the tasks at hand in general, I’m currently recognizing the importance of tirelessly staying the course.
The TV (is that still a thing?) show Survivor comes to mind. Among the words in their tagline of “Outwit, Outlast, Outplay,” “Outlast” is most critical. Think about it, you can win a game by outwitting, but eventually the competition will catch up to your intellect. Even with the talent to outplay, you will inevitably encounter superior opponents. Over the course of time, mental toughness and stamina will win out. Planning is important, but not as importance as will to fight over the course of time. From inc.com:
Regular planning is critical for running a business but I find that preparedness and persistence is even more important than the best possible business plan. In the SEAL teams you spend far more time training and preparing for missions than you do actually planning them. Clear contingency plans were imperative for mission success. Because when bullets start flying even the best plans will need to be adjusted. Persistence wins gunfights more than plans do.
I’ve been thinking through connecting with teammates and how to earn trust when we are initially met with skepticism. There is only one answer – persistently devoted behavior.
We’ve all had teammates or coworkers who are difficult to instantly “click” with. I once had a teammate who did not trust anyone. My man was simply closed. He was scarred by the industry (I got fucked!) and carried a giant chip on his shoulder. Every day, I hunted an interaction or two with him. At mid-season, he had still not warmed up. I found this fairly entertaining and had made a game out of finding reasons to connect, from figuring out his hobbies (he dug a random computer game, “MAX PAYNE 2: THE FALL OF MAX PAYNE”) to suggesting different foods he might like.
As you might suspect, a daily ritual of reaching out only to be resisted grew tiring over the season. I considered using my emotional bandwidth elsewhere. I had to remind myself that he would crack before I did. Frankly, he never became the perfect teammate, but by the end of the season, he was laughing more.
Very rarely will our efforts pay immediate dividends. We might not even realize the fruits of our efforts for weeks or months. However, the commitment to the effort is what defines the success and sets you apart from others. Unlike innate talents, persistence is a skill that can be developed and improved.
Nothing in this 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. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge
Cultivating persistence ensures the ability to continue to press on even when results aren’t instantly apparent. Working the process itself strengthens us far beyond a final outcome. Persistence allows us to maintain a “growth mindset” – our circumstances and struggles are not fixed in stone and can be improved through consistent efforts. My friend wasn’t immediately welcoming of my efforts. If I had accepted the situation as it was, nothing would have changed. The daily efforts may not have made him an ideal teammate, but I enjoyed his presence much more at the end of the season.
PS: As is my general practice, the teammate referenced in this story gave his permission for use of the anecdote.