The topic of perseverance has been discussed ad nauseam across countless organizations and industries. Gurus espouse its power, reminding us that, if we only keep going, good things will assuredly happen to us. As children, we’re reminded not to quit the soccer team or school play but, rather, see each activity through to the end.
However, without support, perseverance can be exceedingly difficult to maintain.
When you don’t see any return on your efforts, how are you supposed to stay motivated? Growth can be slow, especially at the beginning of a journey, and a new business or brand can take a while to build momentum.
What helps people continue their efforts through difficult moments is that they are focused on a purpose. They have a vision for what all the work will accomplish.
Building an Institution
Raymond Albert Kroc was the man who turned McDonald’s into an empire. A 2016 movie, called The Founder, follows his journey, providing an excellent illustration of the power of perseverance.
When Kroc bought McDonald’s in 1961, he was in search of a purpose and sensed it might exist within this particular business. He had a vision of what success might look like, but the road to get there wasn’t quick or easy. Despite an array of challenges, Kroc kept at it, because his core principles and beliefs were aligned with the purpose of making McDonald’s a success. This provided him with the impetus to persevere.
People quit because they decide whatever they’re trying to achieve isn’t worth it.
- They don’t see the value in their work
- They don’t feel fulfilled by what they’re doing
- They suspect the work they’re doing doesn’t align with their values
- They feel the purpose of their work isn’t really meaningful to them
Kroc’s belief in the purpose of his work helped propel him to a massive level of success, turning McDonald’s into the most successful fast food business in the world. His belief, his hard work, and his perseverance all contributed to his ability to accomplish these amazing results.
In The Founder, actor Michael Keaton plays Kroc. He says, “Nothing in this world can take the place of good old persistence. Talent won’t. Nothing’s more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius won’t. Unrecognized genius is practically a cliché. Education won’t. Why, the world is full of educated fools. Persistence and determination alone are all powerful.”
What It Takes to Make It to the End
Do you want your team members to feel as if they’re investing each minute of their workdays into something that’s meaningful and purposeful? People do their best work when they feel that the work is:
- Contributes to their growth and future
- Has a meaning that stretches beyond the completion of daily tasks
As a leader, not only do you need to persist, but you need to provide an environment within which your team members will want to persist. Fear and intimidation do not contribute to persistence. Statements such as, “If you don’t make this deal, you’re going to let us all down and lose your job,” will not motivate them over the long term. Some leaders use hype to try and pump up their team members, but hype can only help for a little while. It fades very quickly. Instead, offer incentives, celebrate successes, and invest in a culture where each person knows they belong and are appreciated.
People do their best work when they feel like they’re connected to something important. They stay in a job when that job makes them feel as if their work is meaningful. They want to be part of a team that’s creating something valuable. That’s where perseverance comes from.
Keep the Momentum Going
There’s a natural letdown that can occur after accomplishing a goal. Once a student achieves their PhD, they might be excited for a period of time, but eventually, they start to wonder, “What comes next?”
Celebrate once your team has reached a goal, but understand that there should be another goal waiting for them. Without a purpose, your team members will struggle to find the motivation to excel. Organizations need to grow and evolve, becoming better, faster, or smarter. Perseverance cannot be set aside after one milestone is met. Instead, it should be an ongoing mindset supported by and embedded within your company’s culture.
When great leaders understand how to harness the abilities of individuals for the greater good, teams are born and organizations thrive. Learn how in our free eBook.
Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.