Ray Kroc quipped, “I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.” Kroc was a struggling milkshake mixer salesman who sold eight machines to brothers, Richard and Maurice McDonald, for their store in San Bernardino, CA. In 1955, Ray Kroc offered his services to the McDonald brothers, convinced that their small local restaurant chain, had the potential to explode across the nation. As often said, “the rest is history.” The golden arches are now one of the most recognized brands in America and the largest fast-food company in the world.
Our culture is infatuated with “flash in the pan” success. Inventors, entrepreneurs, business leaders, church planters and more, all dream of being the exception. The lucky one. The overnight sensation. It was Ray Kroc who also said, “Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” And if you know the backstory, it was a very tough road and a huge challenge to even get the McDonald brothers to cooperate with Kroc’s plan to replicate and franchise their restaurant. The brothers resisted at nearly every suggestion he made. Frustrated, Kroc finally bought out the McDonalds in 1961 and gave them some royalty rights. Persistent perseverance was required.
Great long-term results nearly always come out of perseverance. Overnight success usually happens through years of persistence by someone. It looks easy after it’s been done. And normally, there was nothing easy about it. As an entrepreneur in the church-launching world, I can tell you that the last three decades of starting and building Cape Christian, required incredible persistence and perseverance. There were many obstacles. Mountains. Valleys. Roadblocks. Challenges. Setbacks. Victories. Defeats. But most walk onto our campus and see only the success of a church that started in a hard-to-find elementary school with three couples and has grown to thousands each week on a 14 acre property situated on a major thoroughfare.
I’m a huge fan of business analyst and author Jim Collins. In his signature book, “Good to Great,” Collins writes about the “flywheel effect” that happens in successful organizations. Relentless intentionality on a clearly articulated focused vision (Collins calls it the Hedgehog Concept), begins to attract believers, builds strength, demonstrates results and builds the brand.
Great leaders live their vision with stick-to-it-ness. This is one of the top ten things I’ve learned in nearly forty years of leadership. The application is across the board. Losing weight. Getting in shape. Starting a project. Launching a business. Growing in my relationship with God. Successful persons are persistent and they persevere. It’s mandatory. Steve Keating said it well, “Two things seem certain when it comes to your success: only you can make the decision to quit and only you can make the decision not to.”
QUESTION: What helps you persist and persevere? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.