How persistent are you?
It is human nature to want to be good at what we do and to have our efforts recognised by others. It makes us feel worthwhile, valued and it leaves us with a proud sense of achievement. But if you feel like you have to do things perfectly and that near enough is absolutely not good enough, then you may be afflicted by the curse of perfectionism.
Striving for perfection is a recipe for failure. Perfection quite simply can not be attained! Not at work, not in our relationships, not in our home.
At work, perfectionists are obsessed with producing their best, often setting unattainable goals. They take longer than most to get their work done while they focus on the tiny details and burying themselves in their quest for getting things right. As a leader they tend to be unreasonably demanding. They will often micromanage their team; unable to let go for fear of less than perfect outcomes.
For all their diligence, perfectionists also tend to procrastinate. They are fearful of not getting things right so avoid getting started. They struggle to get their work finished given the high, unachievable standards they have set.
Career success isn’t just about being the smartest or the best educated. It is not about who has the highest IQ or has been fortunate enough to be introduced to the right people.
Yes all of these things help, but there is one very important ingredient which is rarely talked about…. and that is your ability to persist!
That’s right. Persistence.
It’s not the sexiest of skills but it really is important.
Persistence means keeping on going when at first you fail. Persistence means to keep pushing through to become really great at something when others give it away.
Having persistence helps you to work through a difficult performance management issue to resolution or complete a project even when a whole bunch of unexpected barriers appear along the way. It allows you to move through the discomfort of learning something new or to influence your team to embrace an idea or project that they initially rejected.
How persistent are you?
- When the going gets tough do you keep going?
- Do you see projects through to completion… even when the process becomes boring or monotonous?
- When you hit roadblocks, do you hang in there to find a solution?
Let’s just be frank here for a moment. Being persistent is not easy. In fact, very often it is hard.
It’s often so much easier and sometimes more appealing to give up.
Think about the last time you went on a fitness kick. You’re doing really well … then winter arrives and the allure of the warm doona and an extra half hour in bed is so much more inviting than the wet, dark and cold morning.
Those who persist (and yes I admire you) end up with the health, fitness and vitality that we were striving for in the beginning when the motivation was high and the weather warm.
Persistence builds character.
When we achieve something easily we often don’t even recognize the milestone. But when we have fought for it, it seems worthwhile. We feel worthwhile. And the learning from the struggle is profound and lasting.
Like anything, building your ability to persist is like building a muscle. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.
Here are my 3 top tips for building your persistence muscle.
1. Focus on the outcome. Get clear on what you are working towards and why it’s worth pursuing. If something is important enough to you, then you will find a way. Visualise completing the project, task or overcoming the challenge and notice how you will feel when it is done.
2. Develop your belief. More than anything, persistence is about belief; belief in you! Without belief that you are good enough, smart enough or worthy enough it is so often too tempting to give up when things get hard, boring, challenging or painful. Your belief in yourself and in the goals you are going after will help you to continue.
3. Enlist support. Doing it alone is doing it the hard way. Reach out, collaborate or ask for support.
If you don’t have belief in you yet… enlist a colleague, coach or mentor who believes in you to lift you up, push you on and hold you accountable.
When I first started out in my own business, I had a dream and big goals. But I was afraid and uncertain. I didn’t have 100% belief that I had what it took to create a successful business, so I found a mentor who I believed in and who believed in me. When my belief wavered, my mentor propped me up, provided encouragement and gave me the tools to make persisting so much easier.
To persist at anything – is a choice. At any time we can choose to keep going, keep fighting, keep learning, keep finding ways to achieve OR we can choose to give up, say that we tried but failed or simply move onto something else that seems easier or more fun.
But I know that if we want to play a bigger game, achieve new goals, progress our careers so as we really make a difference… then persistence is required. Giving up or taking the easy road is not an option.
And remember, there are no over night success stories! Success in any area of our life takes persistence and hard work. And without it you are only dreaming. Remember, persistence is a choice.
Be honest with yourself…. Are you demonstrating persistence?