Word-Of-the-Week #657: Persevere

March 9, 2017 by  

Persevere – to continue without halting despite difficulties or setbacks; persistence.

Have you ever accomplished something that you thought would not be possible? Do you recover quickly from defeat and adjust easily to change? Can you think of a time when you doubled down against all odds and transformed adversity into a resounding success?

This week’s focus – The Washington Post article by Career Coach Gary Cohen Resilience on the job can pay off. Perseverance will vastly improve your odds of success. He writes, “More than 111 million people watched the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history when the New England Patriots scored 31 unanswered points to beat the Atlanta Falcon in overtime.

It would have been easy for the Patriots to give up, lose focus, and begin thinking about some well-deserved time off after a grueling season. But what we watched was an outstanding example of resilience. Please note, you don’t have to be Tom Brady to be resilient.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was recruited to run the consumer division of a mid-sized company serving the industrial market and the home improvement industry. The industrial division was well-established and had a strong customer base, however the consumer division was quite small, struggling in a crowded and highly competitive market, and losing a significant amount of money. What I learned about this privately held company after I had joined it was that the entire company was truly on the brink of bankruptcy with significant cash-flow problems. We needed something big to happen and it needed to happen quickly.

I persuaded one of the largest retailers to invite us to a product-line review, even though they had never heard of our company, and already had eight other companies coming, including two incumbent suppliers. My reputation was on the line. The problem was that the review was in six weeks and we had no retail packaging or promotional materials, no data or competitive information, and no recommended mix of products to sell in the stores. At first I panicked and actually told my wife that I didn’t know what I had gotten myself into.

But I pulled my very small team together and told them this would take a huge commitment, working days, nights, weekends. I asked them if they could put everything they had into this effort. I asked them if they believed we could out-maneuver and out-muscle our established competitors. This was an opportunity for us to have faith in ourselves, our talents, skills and abilities, and to come back from a deep deficit, based on our ability to be resilient.

Those six weeks of non-stop work and very little sleep paid off for us. The merchants were surprised and our competitors in the retail market who barely knew us were caught completely off-guard. We were immediately awarded a 100-store test and that quickly turned into being awarded this retailer’s business in nearly 1,500 of their stores. That success helped us win business at a couple of other very large retailers. The company made a huge comeback and today, nearly nine years since I departed the company, they have taken their business to all new heights.

Our team was resilient, believing that we could make this happen, that we could out-perform the competition, and we became a significant player in the consumer market.

So what does it take to embrace this trait? It certainly requires an individual to shift their perspectives. Self-help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer once said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Really think about that.

We tend to look at things from our own default perspective, without thought that the view may be much better through a lens other than our own. When you face a horrible or adverse situation at work, it is so easy to dwell on the negatives. People who are resilient will approach this differently. They may acknowledge that the current situation is difficult at best, but they will bounce back and think about the ways they can turn the situation into an opportunity, a more attractive picture. As a leader, this is a trait you always want to embrace.

Look at every situation, no matter how difficult, as a new opportunity to shine. Believe in yourself, believe in your team, and know that it is truly your positive attitude, strong work ethic and winning competitive spirit that will drive your resilience. The next time you are in a tough situation and it looks like you are unable to win, reframe your perspective, look through that new lens, dig in your heels, and make a commitment to persevere and succeed. Nobody wins all of the time, but your record will vastly improve with a strong dose of resilience.”

Knowing that it will vastly improve your odds of success, how willing are you to persevere? Do you believe in yourself and your team? Do you possess the Tom Brady Factor? A positive attitude? A strong worth ethic? A winning competitive spirit?

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