P is for Persistence

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Looking back on your life, when have you shown persistence? You may have shown it when pursuing a passion, playing a sport, fixing a problem, leading a project or whatever.

What did you do right then? You may have chosen to work hard and sweat because you believed in following certain principles. You may have also strongly believed in the benefits of achieving the goal.

This is a pattern demonstrated by many peak performers. They often focus on the following themes when doing fine work.

Picture of Success

They clarify the real results they want to achieve and translate these into a clear picture of success.


They clarify the key principles they can follow towards achieving the picture of success 


They show persistence when following the principles towards achieving the picture of success.

Great workers believe in continuing to do the right things in the right way every day. This calls for following the key principles they believe will produce the desired results.

Such workers recognise that different results will appear at different times. Sometimes it is vital to do certain things quickly and get quick successes.

Sometimes it is important to follow the key principles but also be patient. Some things take longer on the route to achieving success.

Bill Drayton, founder of The Ashoka Organization, believes that persistence is a key characteristic of successful social entrepreneurs.

Ashoka is a pioneering organisation that supports social entrepreneurs across the world. These entrepreneurs aim to improve the quality of peoples’ lives.

They may focus on education, medical care, agriculture, housing, broadcasting or any field of human need. Such people have the passion and practical skills to translate their vision into reality. Bill says:

“What differentiates Ashoka Fellows from mere idealists is that, for these rare men and women, an idea can bring satisfaction only when it is realised.

“Possessing the same unstoppable drive of a Steve Jobs, they define new issues and create new approaches. Their innovations then set new yardsticks of performance for helping society.”

In the video below Bill describes the key qualities that Ashoka looks for in potential Fellows. You can discover more via the following link.


Let’s return to your own life and work. If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the past when you showed persistence when following your principles on the way towards achieving the picture of success.

Describe the specific things you did to show persistence.

Describe the specific things that happened as a result of showing persistence.

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Certainly it takes sweat to reach a goal, but it also requires resilience. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, an expert on leadership, describes how even visionary optimists can feel weary.

Here is an excerpt from her piece on this theme in the Harvard Business Review. You can find the full article via the following link.


“Welcome to the miserable middles of change. This is the time when Kanter’s Law kicks in.

“Everything looks like a failure in the middle. Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work.

“Stay with it through its hurdles, make appropriate adjustments, and you could be on the way to success. Though some ideas are dead-ends, many simply need mid-course corrections.”

Rosabeth provides a checklist of topics to ensure you are on course. These include ensuring that the vision is still inspiring and the benefits are worthwhile.

Looking at leadership as a whole, Rosabeth believes there are six factors that people can embrace when working to create positive change.

Here is a video in which she explains that it is important to do the following things.

1) Show Up. 2) Speak Up. 3) Look Up. 4) Team Up. 5) Never Give Up. 6) Lift Others Up.

There are many ways to do fine work. A person may have talent, a big idea or something that could create a breakthrough. They will still need to show persistence, however, to achieve positive results.

Let’s return to your own life and work. Looking to the future, can you think of a situation when you may need to show persistence? You may want to do this when caring for your health, pursuing a dream, leading a project, passing on knowledge to people or whatever.

If you wish, try tackling the exercise on this theme. This invites you to do the following things.

Describe a specific situation in the future when you may want to show persistence when following your principles towards achieving a picture of success. 

Describe the specific things you can do to show persistence.

Describe the specific things that may result from you showing persistence.

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