Blog post

The Courage to Persevere

5 November 2019

Have you ever felt that you’ve given all you have to give? A few weeks ago, I was there… I was totally spent.

My husband and I were on a cycling trip in Canada. Promoted as “easy to moderate terrain”, we expected a leisurely ride to take in the beautiful fall foliage.

Little did we know that the subtle definition of “rolling hills” would translate for us into long and steep mini mountains.

On day three of our tour, the guide cautioned us to be prepared for Sugar Hill in Knowlton, Quebec. She said we should give the hill a try, but to expect we might hit a wall at some point in the climb.

We decided to go for it, and we gave it all we had to give to get to the top of that hill. After struggling and peddling like crazy, we finally made it! Goal achieved! Check!

Before we could catch our breath, the bike’s GPS instructed us to turn right, and when we looked both right and up, we couldn’t believe it! What we thought was the top of Sugar Hill was just the beginning with the remainder of the incline being profoundly more challenging.

We were flabbergasted and disillusioned! After pausing for a moment, we decided we had three choices. We could quit (which was not an acceptable option). We could continue to pedal as hard as we could in the lowest gear and go nowhere fast. Or, we could change “how” we were pursuing the climb.

And so, we decided to persevere by changing our approach. We grabbed our handlebars, got off of our bikes, and we pushed our bikes all the way up the rest of that hill!

Were we comfortable in this new experience? No, and our huffing and puffing proved it!! Was our approach pretty? No! Did we quit? No! Did we get there? Yes! Could we have gotten there faster and easier if only we had embraced the advantage offered by the new technology of e-bikes? Of course! But we missed that golden opportunity by insisting that we continue our ride “the old-fashioned way” (You know the proverbial claim… “But we’ve always done it that way!”).

We live and work in challenging times, and as leaders, the pathways before us will certainly be long and steep as we continuously seek to guide our teams to new heights.

On the journey to excellence, we are called to have the courage to persevere. We should remember to celebrate the greatness our teams achieve every day while also understanding that there will be abundant opportunities to improve our performance today, tomorrow and beyond.

For this fact, in the quest for excellence, we will never really arrive; yet we always must strive continuously to give only our best which is what our customers, employees and other key stakeholders need, want and deserve.

Even when you’re spent, and you think you’ve given all that you have to give, how will you persevere in leading your team to peak performance?

  • What will you do differently in “how” you are leading? Perhaps the Key Ingredients of Gracious Leadership might come in handy.
  • As your job will invariably change, what skills do you need that you don’t currently have? Consider advocating for yourself by asking for stretch assignments. Seek to learn new skills and become all you’ve been created to be.
  • Are there steps you must take to ensure the achievement of your ever-increasing stretch goals? What must you do differently to persevere as a peak performance leader?
  • How can you make better utility of your resources? Please don’t be stubborn (like we were) by refusing to adopt new technology and missing out on the benefits that can be derived from such contemporary resources.
  • And how can you better leverage your most precious asset… your people? Unleash the passion that resides within them. Empower them, match the passion of the person with the purpose of the work. And, be sure to encourage a culture of openness and transparency as those closest to the front line should have the best view of workplace reality.

Yes, perseverance will definitely be required as you continue your journey to peak performance. When the going gets tough, I encourage you to catch your breath, change your approach and garner the courage to persevere as you lead your team to the top of your own Sugar Hill!

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