The ultimate measure of a man (leader/business owner) is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

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Picture this; you talk to ten potential investors to invest in your new startup and they all turn you down. You go on marketing calls for one week and no one is interested in buying your product or service. You lose two of your most valued employees in the same week. These are some of the things that could happen in the extremely competitive business world. However, your drive, ambition, persistence and most important of all PERSEVERANCE will help you to stay focused when adversity strikes.

We usually talk about leadership in terms of the knowledge and skills needed to become more proficient. This goes hand-in-hand for business owners too, most of which can be developed with coaching or training. A business owner is a leader as well, in most cases. However, one of the key attributes of successful leaders and business owners is perseverance. Persevering in the face of daunting challenges and maintaining focus even when things don’t go as anticipated is often the key to leadership success.

Building a successful business is not about big dreams and hopes, it is about having the discipline, determination and tenacity to stick it out. Success doesn’t necessarily have to be on the other side of failure but could be a result of it. I often say to my business clients; if you knew what you should have known before starting your business, you wouldn’t have started your own business. But that’s just it, we need more people to start their own businesses. In fact, according to the Government of Canada, the last statistics show that 97.9% of businesses are small businesses (1-99 employees). The SME research and statistics identified that as of 2015, small businesses employed over 8.2 million individuals in Canada, or 70.5% of the total private labour force. By comparison, medium-sized businesses accounted for 19.8% (2.3 million individuals) and large businesses accounted for 9.7% (1.1 million individuals) of the private sector workforce. What does that mean? We need small businesses in our economy and we need leaders and business owners to stick it out. 

What is Perseverance?

Perseverance is a firm determination to persist in a course of tasks or action despite incessant failures, discouragement or difficulties. A business owner who perseveres does not give in or quit when confronted with an unexpected obstacle or difficulty. He or she is ready to endure until the set goal is achieved. Instead of giving up, a business owner will consider the circumstances, find a potential solution and take steps to rise above the challenges. Business owners with perseverance are always striving for excellence, they have clear direction and target and are constantly pushing themselves to be better. If your progress or goal is derailed by every little obstacle or bad result, you’ll never achieve your goals. Successful business owners know this and are motivated to persevere until they achieve success, even if this means taking a few steps back or starting all over. Thus, the ability to overcome setbacks and continue to strive for success is perseverance and it’s an essential business ownership competency. Persevering business owner grow their interests and are focused on them and as a result they are not bothered about setbacks or challenges, instead they are motivated to embrace and overcome them.

Leaders that Persevere

There are countless examples of leaders who demonstrated perseverance and fought through hardship, crisis and bankruptcy to achieve success. Consider some examples of leaders that showed true perseverance.

Thomas Edison– Thomas Edison was pulled out of school because his teacher labeled him “stupid” and “unteachable.” Edison was fired from several jobs in his teenage years but despite all these setbacks, he never lost his true passion, inventing. Throughout a wildly successful career, Thomas obtained 1,093 patents. While many of his inventions were groundbreaking, it is interesting to note that even more of them were unsuccessful.

J.K. RowlingJ.K. Rowling the author of the Harry Potter series was turned down by twelve different publishing companies. Even when the manuscript was eventually purchased by a small publishing company, Rowling was told to “get a day job.”When Rowling was writing the original Harry Potter book, her life was in a total mess. She was going through a devastating divorce, her mother had just passed way from multiple sclerosis, and she was surviving on government subsidies. J.K. never allowed these negative situations to weaken her resolve, she devoted most of her free time to the Harry Potter series. The result? A brand name currently worth nearly $15 billion.

Walt Disney– Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star Newspaper because of his seeming lack of creativity. He started an animation company called Laugh-O-Gram, but was forced to shut down when his distributor went out of business. He was barely able to feed himself or pay his rent. He faced several other challenges in his quest to build an empire, but he never lost sight of the bigger picture. He achieved success because of his undying perseverance.

Steve Jobs– Despite being the co-founder of one of the world’s most successful companies, Steve was proof that perseverance is an essential competency of a great leader. In 1997, Jobs was on the brink of bankruptcy, but he never allowed the situation to hold him back, he persevered and was rewarded with remarkable success with Apple.

How then can you build leadership skills in the area of perseverance? Consider the following tips;

Be Resilient

It is a natural human reaction to take the less complex path in difficult situations. However, it is critical that you fight this urge and learn to persevere. Try to develop the discipline to create a plan and stick to it, don’t allow yourself to give up. Develop a contempt for complacency and keep yourself accountable. Admittedly, this will require constant practice, and you may need to employ the “fake it till you make it” approach, but the more you do this, the more you strengthen your perseverance “muscle”. With consistent effort, you will build your perseverance considerably over time.

Don’t assume success is a destination

Most people define success as a specific destination. For instance, a company may define success when team members have lifted output by x%. However, the team may not achieve success when this milestone is reached. Success may be dependent on several other factors. The implication of this is that the pathway to “success” is not a destination but a journey, an experience, and the best you can do as an individual is to persevere till you accomplish a goal and then move on to the next one. Growth lives in the movement of success.

Mentally prepare for obstacles

In the perfect world, life is easy and there are no obstacles. However, a business owner realizes that such expectations are unrealistic, therefore it is critical to mentally plan for or anticipate challenges or obstacles. This will allow you to be better equipped to cope with or deal with obstacles when they do occur (and be pleasantly amazed when they don’t).

Be Positive

A business owner with a limiting belief, or pessimistic view will never have the courage or muster up the determination to persevere. To combat this, try to be more self-aware. If you catch yourself having a negative view, address it immediately. Try to understand why you have these feelings and create positive alternatives. Furthermore, you can fuel your perseverance by improving and developing others. And the best way to do this is by modeling optimal behaviour. Developing a culture of perseverance will maximize your potential and help you to achieve peak performance. Others around will also be motivated to emulate your grit.

The bottom line is that running a successful business is hard work; the pain, discipline, struggle, failure etc. cannot be quantified, but with perseverance you can be sure of success. So, no matter how daunting the obstacle is NEVER GIVE UP the light is just ahead, STICK IT OUT.

If you want a one-on-one discussion on how to improve your perseverance, I am just a call away.




About the author: Kyle Kalloo is the Chief Executive Officer, Business Coach with Change My Life Coaching and Strategic Leader. Through his management training and experience with McDonalds, Famous Players (Paramount) and WestJet, and all of the ongoing learning and development he’s completed, Kyle has refined and perfected skills and processes and is eager to share how to execute them efficiently to help individuals and companies achieve even more of their dreams. 83% of Kyle’s business comes from referrals. https://www.changemylifecoaching.ca and https://strategicleader.ca