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Posted: December 14, 2011

Perserverance: Not just a cheesy saying

Five tips for the real deal

Derek Murphy

When I hear the term perseverance, it's hard not to think of those "motivational" posters proudly displayed in so many offices. You know what I mean; the posters usually showcase a mountain or a sailboat with a slogan that says something about persevering no matter the hurdles, etc.

I don't know about you, but I don't really get motivated by a poster. Now, real life examples, on the other hand, are a whole different ballgame.

To persevere is steady persistence in spite of difficult circumstances and obstacles. Take for instance Jack Welch who caused an explosion that blew the roof off a building, and was almost fired as a result. He went on to become chairman and CEO of General Electric, along with being one of the most talked about and widely emulated business leaders in history.

Or what about Thomas Edison who battled dyslexia to invent the tools that greatly influenced our modern society?

Finally, I can't leave out the late Steve Jobs, who at one time, was kicked out of the company he helped create. And we are all aware of how much his determination and strength eventually changed the world.

Obviously perseverance is important in a leader, but it is not a quality automatically found in everyone. However, with the right attitude, anyone can learn to develop it.

Ask yourself this question; are you willing to stick with an idea if you are convinced it is the right direction, even if your ideas are in the minority? If the answer is yes, you probably push others to take risks and support them in these endeavors along with serving as a role model for innovative thinking.
If the answer is maybe or no, you probably are not experienced with persevering when you encounter resistance. In addition, you might be lacking the self-confidence to take command of situations and have a cautious and conservative leadership style. It is vital to maintain your enthusiasm and determination especially when facing difficult circumstances.

Well, lucky for you my answer in helping you develop perseverance does not include sending you a motivational poster of a mountain. Here are some real life tips:

• Instead of getting frustrated when things don't go as planned, expect change, ambiguity, and frustration at least part of the time. This is normal. Develop your sense of humor; learn not to take yourself too seriously.

• You need to be able to persevere during the hard times if you are convinced you are on the right course. Before you make a big change, consult with other leaders about the decision and analyze what impact the change will have on the organization (both positive and negative).

• Think positively. Instead of telling yourself a task is impossible, tell yourself that you have reached a momentary impasse and that a solution does exist and will eventually come to you.

• If you tend to change course too often, practice handling ambiguous situations and learn to wait out your anxiety.

• Persistence does not mean banging one's head on an obstacle until one or the other gives way. It does mean finding and applying strategies that will move you forward. Apply your problem-solving skills and brainstorm possible solutions to the problem. Form a team to help identify obstacles and develop alternatives for overcoming them.

Strive to become a take-charge person who knows how to handle crises in a confident manner. Do that, and you will gain the respect of your direct reports and peers. No motivational poster needed.

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Derek Murphy is CEO of TBC, a global assessment company with over 4 decades of experience, specializing in 360s and survey customization. Our hosting platform, TruScore®, allows you to manage all of your talent management assessments in one central location. Request a demo to discover why some of the most recognized brands in the Fortune 1000 chose TBC.

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Readers Respond

Great article Derek, You are right, its not just a cheesy saying. Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance. It's also about being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint. Thanks for sharing. Liz Wendling By liz wendling on 2011 12 14

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