In Change, Leaders

“Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement comes apparent failure and discouragement.” – Florence Scovel Shinn

We ascribe many qualities to great leaders – intelligence, work ethic, strategic thinker, etc.  All of those things are important, and all of them impact the success of an organization in different ways.  I doubt you’ll ever find a truly great leader who’s lacking in any of those items.

I do think there is a characteristic of great leaders that is sometimes overlooked.  I think we tend to ignore it because it implies that bad things will happen, and we often like to look at the world through rose-colored glasses.  You could call it perseverance, or tenacity, or even just stick-to-it-iveness.  Whatever you call it, it’s absolutely critical.

Contrary to what we like to believe, success is not a straight line upward.  Even the most successful people and organizations experience some degree of a roller coaster ride.  The level of ups and downs may vary significantly, but they’re there.  It’s an unavoidable part of business – life too, for that matter.

So many times I’ve seen leaders who have all the wonderful characteristics & behaviors we think they need.  They set off on their journey, sure to be successful.  Then, somewhere, they hit a roadblock, and everything grinds to a halt.  The get discouraged, lose energy and focus, and for lack of a better word, quit.

How do you handle adversity?  Do you fight through barriers?  Or do you just decide that whatever your vision was isn’t possible?  Do you keep pushing for what you really wanted, or do you settle?

Very few words in the English language have developed a worse reputation than “quitter”.  Sometimes when we’re evaluating ourselves we aren’t completely honest because we don’t want that kind of word to apply to us.  But, on some level at least, is it true?  And what, then, will you do about it?

There is no opportunity to improve if we don’t acknowledge our weaknesses.  Take some time for reflection and self-evaluation.  Do you have the perseverance to see the vision through?  Will you stick to it even in periods of “apparent failure and discouragement”?  If not, that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.  It just means it’s time to get to work – on you.

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