Perseverance – What’s It All About Really?



Okay, sure, you know this word. You’ve probably used it in conversation with others more than once. Probably used it to describe something about yourself too. But, what does it really mean?


Martin E. P. Seligman, a noted researcher in personal attributes, asserts, “Unless you’re a genius, I don’t think you can ever out-achieve your competitors without a quality like perseverance.” In the business arena, I say he’s right.


In his book, “Sticking to It: The Art of Adherence,” author Lee L. Cohn, introduces the Adherence Equation. This is it: Focus x Competence x Passion = Adherence. In this equation, there are three success factors that high achievers’ practice. They continually: Sharpen their Focus, Build their Competence, and Ignite their Passion.


In other words, Win or Lose? You Choose.


The game of business is clearly won by those who persevere in execute their excellent strategies. Sticking to It is the first step to creating a sustainable competitive advantage for you and your team.


Challenges for leaders are always changing, but the formula for winning remains the same…focus on “how” more than on “what.” Strategy gets you in the game. Execution (that means behavior, what you say and what you do) gets you in the winner’s circle.  


A few tips from Cohn’s writing I like are these:


Worry wrecks your focus. Everyone worries … the trick is to minimize the time between your first worried thought and your first action to attack it.


Prepare for two steps ahead. Balance your focus on the task at hand with preparation for the next step. This prevents complacency. Ask yourself, “What knowledge, skills, relationships, experiences do I need to develop to be prepared to succeed?”


Create it once, use it many times. If you know you will perform a task more than once, create a checklist, a form, or a template to save time and improve your consistency over the long haul. No need to reinvent the wheel every time you perform your routine work.



Ask the right questions. The fastest way to change the answers you receive–from yourself and others–is to change the questions you ask. Asking the right questions will get you better answers whether you are asking them of yourself or of others. The questions you ask will either limit or expand the possible responses.


You gravitate to your dominant thought and you move toward that which you believe to be true. Use these natural forces to pick a goal that ignites your passion (you should feel the tingle up your spine!). Next, select an image, a word, or physical item like a coin or a key fob. Then, use the image, word or item you select as a constant reminder of your goal. It will trigger an emotional response, ingrain your goal into your mind, and get you more quickly moving toward your goal.


Listen to Yoda. In the immortal words of the Star Wars Jedi Master, “Do or do not. There is no ‘try.’” If you are nervous that a plan you have crafted won’t work, you might find yourself saying, “OK, I’ll try to do it.” But if that’s your mind set going in, you are laying the foundation for being unsuccessful from the beginning, giving yourself a way out. Yoda’s adage is a passionate reminder that life rewards those who let their actions rise above their excuses.


Always remember, you get what you expect. Expect the very best of yourself and of others. Great success is always rooted in great expectations.


So, does perseverance mean nothing in life or in business comes easy? Well, a lot of people think so. I happen to think otherwise.


I believe that once we know what we really truly want, where we want to get to, why we want to get there, and have a time frame in mind–in other words, once we have a clear vision of the future we want for ourselves personally and for our business–then perseverance is a natural occurrence. We persevere because that’s how we will joyfully get to where we want to get. The journey will be fun, even though sometimes we may need to struggle through.


I know that if I am persevering towards something about which I am passionate, I am on the right path. There is comfort in that for me. Tells me I’m being true to myself. So, bring on the next bit of perseverance, please.