By Steve Watkins
You must persevere to get past those roadblocks that inevitably crop up in any venture. Get past them by having unshakable faith in what you’re doing. That’s how leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Eleanor Roosevelt forged ahead.
“Ask yourself what values and causes you believe in personally,” said Antigoni Ladd, co-owner with her husband, Everett, of the Gettysburg, Pa.-based Tigrett Leadership Academy, which uses examples from history in its lessons.
Set your goals.
Abraham Lincoln met with plenty of opposition in trying to unite the country under his vision, Ladd says. He wanted the U.S. to be a model of democracy for the world. That view helped him persevere even as he encountered fierce opposition.
“Persistence is doing whatever it takes to get you to your vision,” Ladd said. “Lincoln was driven by his vision of what the U.S. should be. He was certain of what he wanted for the long term, so if he had a failure, he kept going.”
Stick to your guns if you’re confident in your ideas. Even when Winston Churchill was out of favor with British parliament before World War II began, he could see Germany was rearming. He gathered reports and studied the situation, Ladd says. Once he became prime minister, he was prepared. He sold Britain’s war cabinet and the British people on the importance of going to war to stop Germany.
“He was so embedded in that vision of victory!” Ladd said.
Expect a roadblock.
If you’re striving to achieve something important, it’s inevitable that you’ll hit obstacles on the way.
“Any great accomplishment at one time was considered an impossible dream,” said Joe Tye, CEO and head coach at Solon, Iowa-based consulting and training firm Values Coach. “The bigger the dream, the bigger the challenges.”
Prepare at all levels to persevere to get past hurdles, keep a positive outlook and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve to overcome them, Tye says. Many new businesses fail, but Tye says it’s up to the owner. Leaders who persevere by making a call to one more bank or check in with one more potential client tend to succeed, he says.
“Businesses do not fail; owners quit,” he said.
Keep at it.
When Harland Sanders started trying to franchise his fried chicken concept he was rejected by many restaurants (legend has it he received 1,009 rejections) before succeeding. He had worked hard perfecting his combination of spices and method of cooking the chicken in a pressure cooker. Restaurant owners continually told him that they already knew how to make fried chicken. He forged on until he built it into Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“He knew what he wanted to accomplish and refused to give up,” Ladd said.
Address the problem.
It’s vital to make sure your group doesn’t start to lose faith if you encounter obstacles. If morale begins to slip, find the cause and deal with it. It might be a disgruntled member talking negatively or a communication problem you need to rectify.
“Once the cause is discovered and the situation can be corrected, the team morale will again enter a positive zone, all due to the perseverance of the team leader,” Ladd said.
Know when to shift.
Tye calls it a “broad and fuzzy line” between sticking to your guns and stubbornly persevering in your beliefs, even if your plan is unworkable.
“If something is not working, try something else, but don’t quit,” Tye said.
View hurdles as chances to achieve. Tye believes that Randy Pausch, the late Carnegie Mellon University professor who wrote “The Last Lecture,” said it best: “Brick walls are not there to keep us out. Brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”
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