Patience and Perseverance Still Matters

Posted: June 7, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Leadership, People

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipA few weeks ago, I was fortunate to cross paths with an older, delightfully engaging woman while having my car serviced.  As we were conversing, I sensed a major event was about to happen in her life.  Since 1996, she had been driving the same small, four door sedan. She claimed to have logged 245,000 miles on it. “It has been my goal for years to purchase a brand new, beautiful automobile.   I have been saving and investing a few dollars every month for the last 15 years.  Every month was a challenge.  I am now about to drive away in my brand new car.”  With a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, she shared, “This is one of the most important days of my life.”   Her pride and sense of self-worth was overwhelming.  She had come to the end of a seemingly endless journey with numerous detours and had achieved what she set out to accomplish.  The victory was hers – completing the journey by driving away in a new car.

In our work (teaching, coaching and consulting), patience and perseverance are not generally recognized as catalysts for a company’s growth or an individual’s career success. These attributes are associated with slow, methodical plodders who tend to over plan and adhere to intransigence.  We must embrace a different view of these leadership qualities.  Achieving the goal is dependent on patience and perseverance.   The journey in arriving at any important goal will have detours and roadblocks along the way.  These detours will slow the pace in achieving the expectations and will quickly produce a drumbeat of criticism from the “bosses.”

To fend off the assault, step back and review the goal and think through the plan for achieving the results.  You have a sense of relief.  The goal is just and right.  The plan has been developed, reviewed and worked.  You say to yourself – “We are staying patient, calm and steady.”  Even the most accomplished and talented individuals need to be encouraged to stay patient, calm and steady on occasion.

Having patience and perseverance today requires a high level of courage.  The world has too many “gunslingers” aiming to shoot you down at every false move.  If the first quarter falls short, a showdown happens in the boss’s office. The leader listens to some ranting and raving.  Following the bloviation, the leaders – entrepreneurs and corporate innovators – use their art to convince the bosses to struggle and experience the “whitewater” with them. Patience and perseverance will not be embraced until is understood – over and over again.

To support these key leadership attributes, let me suggest actions at three different levels:

Most Senior Bosses (SB) today have not built businesses in their industry. They must trust that the right people have been placed in the right spots.  Have them explain periodically how they will achieve the goals.  Be curious and ask the right questions (e.g. is the goal really achievable?).  Don’t gunsling.  If you start yelling and screaming, you have lost the people that you placed your trust in.  Have patience and persevere. The goal will be achieved.

The Leader Operator/Entrepreneur (LOE) must be the purveyor of patience and perseverance.  To commit to this standard, continually assess your plan and the people assigned to deliver it.  Does the plan still make sense against shifting market trends.  Be certain you are receiving the important information about market shifts.  As the leader, be committed to achieving specific results.  This will only happen by being patient and persevering with the right plan.

The Individual Contributor (IC) must support the leader/entrepreneur’s belief in patience and perseverance.  This will happen when the IC believes in the plan, executes it daily and offers subtle adjustments as the market shifts.  If the IC follows-through with these expectations, the LOE will have the courage to take on the boss and be committed to patience and perseverance.

The personal and professional rewards of patience and perseverance are life changing.  Be encouraged by the hard-work and effort of achieving an uphill battle.  Life’s lessons are all around you because you stayed the course.

Let me know your thoughts at heuertm@miamioh.edu.

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