Many of us know the expression, “If you fail, try and try again”. It speaks to the idea of not giving up, continuing to persevere despite loss, setbacks and perhaps even pushing past emotional, psychological and physical pain.
To draw on a sports analogy, nowhere is that more evident right now than when watching playoff hockey. Even if you are not a regular season watcher you will be awestruck by the level of talent, skill, dedication, passion and self-sacrifice demonstrated by all of the teams during the playoffs. Even though I am a Habs fan, I can fully appreciate the heightened level of excellence put forth by all the teams at this stage of the game. For example, just when we think there is no way a team can recover from a 3-0 loss in the series (Habs), they can come back to not only tie but also win the series. How does that happen? We can fill pages with all the qualities and traits that make individuals and teams a success but I believe perseverance and true grit are at the top of the list.
Players can’t wallow in sorrow or anger about the goals they didn’t score. They immediately regroup and keep shooting until they do score. I am not a sports analyst but I predict that the team that wins the Stanley Cup this year will be the one that simply never gives up-no matter how exhausted, hurt and frustrated they become during the long hours of grueling play over days and weeks.
That is what sets star performers apart regardless of profession, industry or trade.
As a leadership coach to many business people over the years, I have observed that those who achieve sustained success recognize their skills through feedback and self-reflection, embrace their limitations and focus all of their energy and time on getting better at what they enjoy and do best. Sometimes it is tedious, repetitive hard work but it’s one of the few ways to achieving greatness.
Perseverance builds character because no matter how much help and support we get through coaches and friends, it’s a personal journey we take alone. Sometimes in that quiet space when we are most tired, facing numerous roadblocks, we may begin to doubt ourselves and question our purpose, ask whether we made the right choices or if we are good enough to stay the course. Those periods of self-reflection are important ones to help reset our compass and it is perseverance that will get us over those moments of self-doubt so we don’t give up.
I’d like to modify the quote I started with to say, “If you fail, try something different again and again”. Because it isn’t just about trying but making a shift in behavior with a clear purpose. That may fail too, so learn from that and try something different- again. Keep practicing and refining what works and success is guaranteed.