By Steve Watkins
It’s obvious that keeping at a task typically improves your chances of achieving it. But it’s not always easy to know when your persistence becomes stubbornness and if you’re headed down the wrong path — unless you change course.
Here’s how to recognize that fine line while trying to make perseverance part of your firm’s culture.
Know its value.
One study showed that the average grade-point average of American millionaires is just 2.9. That’s not what sets them apart. It’s their attitude.
“Their quality that was praised the most was grit and persistence,” Eric Barker, a Los Angeles-based author who wrote “Barking up the Wrong Tree,” told IBD. “That makes sense. If you give things a try only once, you’re not likely to succeed.”
Take small steps.
It’s tough to know when you should be dogged and when you’re simply being stubborn. Barker suggests starting with small steps that don’t take a lot of resources. If you’re starting yoga, don’t immediately sign up for a year of classes. Try one or two first.
“Test stuff to see what’s worth putting grit and persistence behind,” Barker said.
Persistence isn’t necessary just for the big projects. It comes into play all the time, says Renee Hale, lead consultant with Chicago-based management consulting group Wellspirit Consulting Group.
“You know you need to pull different pieces together, even if it seems impossible,” she said. “Every decision you make is intentional. It takes some persistence to achieve the outcome you want.”
Build perseverance into your DNA, Hale says, by doing it for short-term tasks. She works on a special task force that deals with clients. She persists in not only completing her part but asking others how they’re progressing toward the monthly deadline.
“That builds perseverance into a habit,” Hale said.
Make sure it’s realistic.
New York University psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen found that fantasizing about a dream goal doesn’t help you accomplish it. It actually hurts your chances. She came up with a system to turn those dreams into reality. She calls it WOOP: wish, outcome, obstacle, plan. Once you know your wish — maybe it’s getting a great job — crystallize the outcome: Become a vice president at Google. Then consider the obstacles to doing that, such as education or experience. Finally, plan how you’ll overcome those obstacles. That adds a h3 dose of reality to your dreams. If people felt energized after that process, it meant those plans felt realistic, Barker says. If they weren’t energized, they probably had no chance.
“It became a litmus test of when to apply grit or to apply quit,” Barker said.
Struggling to keep going with a seemingly stalled project? Hale suggests asking yourself what you can do to move it forward rather than passively waiting for others to finish their parts. It might mean contacting the person holding it up, in order to get it moving again.
“That way you can at least do something to keep it moving forward with momentum,” Hale said.
Enlist some of your trusted mentors to help you decide if you’re being persistent — or being intractable and heading down the wrong path, Hale says. They’ll help you see the big picture.
“You’ll find out if you’re being stubborn or if it’s just a difficult decision,” Hale said.
The U.S. Navy found that the key trait for people to pass SEAL training wasn’t being h3 or tough. It was positive self-talk. Telling yourself you can do it keeps you driving forward.
“When good things happen you feel they’re permanent and they’re due to you,” Barker said. “You think, ‘When I apply myself, things always work out.’ Believing in yourself can keep you going.”
Ask others what they think, Hale says. That empowers them and shows them your persistent attitude toward decision-making, so they’ll be more inclined to adopt it themselves.
“Perseverance is leading to the best decision for the company,” Hale said. “Stubbornness is about what the leader wants.”
Read the full article here.
This content was originally published by Investors Business Daily. Original publishers retain all rights. It appears here for a limited time before automated archiving. By Investors Business Daily