Leadership isn’t for the faint-hearted. It will test what you are made of. It can look easy when someone else is doing it, but leadership requires perseverance, tenacity, determination and grit. Every successful leader has faced obstacles, challenges and storms. Every leader who has started something or grown something has discovered it is harder and takes longer than they expected.
In a recent post on the most admired qualities of leadership in today’s world, persistence was one of the top seven. When you launch a business, an organization or a church (as I have done), there are frequent challenges and obstacles—anticipated and unanticipated. The leader who is successfully standing years later, is one who demonstrates persistence and perseverance.
When I started Cape Christian Fellowship, we felt drawn to buy land on the growing edge of the city along a four-lane road near the intersection of a future proposed cross-town highway. The challenge: no large parcels of land for a future church campus. The plan: assemble three city blocks of vacant residential properties owned by 48 individuals scattered across the world.
I thought it might take 4-5 years to assemble these four dozen properties. Some thought it could never be accomplished. Many reminded me that if one landowner in the middle held out and refused to sell, the city would not be able to vacate the streets and right-aways that ran through these three city blocks. And then, the whole property wouldn’t be available as one contiguous 14 acre parcel. While it took nearly 10 years to accomplish, the land purchase was completed.
Here are four things I learned about being persistent:
Know the Why – It’s so important to know why you are doing what you are doing. If you can’t answer the why, you will get sidelined by the what. Obstacles, storms and challenges can cause you to lose focus on the why. You must not forget the why.
Communicate the Vision Often – As a leader you may have the vision clearly in your mind but it won’t stay clear in the minds of those you are leading. Vision leaks. Vision fades. Keep painting the big picture of the preferred future so people remember the why and the plan to get where you are going.
Celebrate the Progress – We used an old-school hand-drawn map of the three city blocks with each of the 48 properties outlined as a visible reminder of what we were doing. One by one, we publicly shaded in each purchased property to give our people a vision of the progress we were making. We celebrated each and every incremental victory on the way to the big goal. It helped us persevere for nearly a decade until we finished the project.
Never Give Up – In the words of a famous seven-word speech by Winston Churchill, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.”
Leaders know how to stick with it through thick and thin. Yes, it is often harder than it looks, but perseverance, tenacity, determination and grit become clearly visible and obvious in a microwave, fast-food, easy-come easy-go, undisciplined culture.
QUESTION: What else have I missed that helps you persist? Please share it below. Thanks!