SUCCEED THROUGH PERSISTENCE

“I don’t think I can make it!” 

I used to take my family to a Christian family camp every year. Horn Creek is located in the Sangra DeCristo mountain range just above the city of Westcliffe, CO, and just below Horn Creek mountain. Throughout the years, I would hear stories and recounts of people hiking to various caves, gold and silver mines, and a WWII plane crash. Understanding all of these stories made me want to go and explore. However, the idea of hiking down to the plane crash intrigued me more than anything. I had read the history of the crash and saw the guns and other items in a small museum in town. I was told the aircraft was left as it was except for the crew remains and the weapons. 

“Thankfully, persistence is a great substitute for talent”

STEVE MARTIN

I told my wife I was going to go check it out. She encouraged me to go but said it would be difficult due to my physical condition. I convinced her I could do it. I have a neurological disease called Char-Cot-Marie-Tooth. The lack of nerve and muscle stimulation causes atrophy in my hands and feet, creating a loss of strength, balance, and foot drop.

One morning, a couple of friends and I decided to hike down to the wreckage. The journey down was difficult, and I fell a few times, trip all the time, but I made it and enjoyed looking around and checking things out. But then, we had to start back up. 

I never imagined the journey would be so difficult. About a third of the way up, I couldn’t go anymore. I couldn’t feel my legs, my heart rate was way up, and the altitude took away my breath. I told one of my friends,

I don’t think I can make it, call a rescue helicopter to come to get me.” 

I wanted to give up. My body was begging me to stop, and my mind wished to follow suit. But I persisted and I made it to the top—lungs, and heart intact. Everyone clapped and hugged me! What made me continue to go and achieve my goal? Persistence.

During the COVID-19 crisis, leaders have become stretched beyond their knowledge and capabilities. All levels of leadership are experiencing this. As I continue working with leadership in these difficult times, I’ve seen some high-level leaders fail and watched other leaders persist through the challenges. 

So how does one persist through the challenges? Well, I identified six things I did to maintain my persistence to the top of the mountain. In thinking through each one, I realized these could certainly help increase a leader’s persistence in a challenging and stressful time.

Here are the six things that helped me keep going t when everything in me wanted to quit. If you find yourself in a situation where you want to give up, refer back to these, and I believe they can help you.

Ignore everyone

“Energy and persistence conquer all things”

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

At the beginning of the climb, I saw all my friends climbing with ease. Every time I saw someone hiking with ease, I felt terrible about myself. But when I stopped worrying about what others were doing and focused on my persistence to achieve my goal, I began to focus on my mission and how I was going to make it. When leading in difficult times, you need every ounce of energy to persist through the challenges. Focus your efforts on what matters.

You are your biggest supporter

I’m going to make you so proud”

NOTE TO SELF

When I started the hike, I was hanging with everyone. However, within 15 minutes, I was far behind and alone. At first, I was frustrated; my friends abandoned me, but then I realized my burden wasn’t for anyone else to bear. Eventually, one of my friends realized I was not doing well and came to check on me. He encouraged me to persist through this. That motivated me to turn inward and find the strength and determination to keep going. I began to encourage myself with every step. Leading in challenging times means that sometimes you have to hike alone. If you find yourself in that position, find a way to persist through it by encouraging yourself and realizing you had past achievements and will have future success.

Stop and appreciate the little things

The little things matter in life. Appreciate everything you see, hear and experience.

DENIS BAKER

I remember as I was climbing up the mountain, I would have to stop often to catch my breath. When I was standing there, I began to notice how the wreckage spread out alongside the mountain, and the field was a lot larger than I thought. As I continued in my persistence, I kept getting glimpses of the beauty all around. In those moments, I gave no thought to my struggle. In these challenging times, persistence will increase your confidence and leadership ability. Focus on the journey to the finish line. Embrace new experiences and welcome the struggles and challenges.

Focus on the next step

Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Denis Baker

On my climb back up the mountain, I would get discouraged when I would see how far away I was from the top. I realized that if I persisted through the struggles, I would make it to the top! When we face difficult challenges, we can struggle with the thought of eliminating anything the impossible, which opens the door for resistance to creep in. By persisting through difficulties, you can keep build momentum and achieve success. Remember that our persistence today creates reality for tomorrow.

Stop looking for a way out

“The easy way out usually leads back in”

PETER SENGE

I wanted a helicopter to get me out of there! I couldn’t go anymore; I didn’t have the strength. I even asked one of the guys to carry my fat body out. When you are suffering, or in pain, it is easy to want to make it go away. But when you persist through the pain and struggles, you will overcome and set yourself up for long-term growth.

Recognize your limitations

“Don’t limit your challenges. Challenge your limits”

UNKNOWN

I had to be honest with myself. I was in pain, couldn’t breathe, and didn’t have the same strength in my legs as everyone else. I was pushing my body to the limit. My approach needed to change. After realizing I would not keep up with everyone and that I was going to make it to the top a long time after everyone else got up there. I realized through my persistence; I would make it to the top. Your leadership process might not look like everyone else’s, and that’s OK. We all lead differently. Instead, maintain your persistence, and you will see success.

SUMMARY

As we continue through this crisis, there will continue to be many challenges, difficulties, and a bunch of bumps and bruises along the way. When the journey becomes more uncomfortable than what you are used to, it can be easy to throw in the towel and retreat. But if of persist through the challenges, you can find the strength to keep going, and will discover the reward was worth the effort.

undefinedDenis is a former VP of Safety, HR and Risk Management. As an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Group, Denis is a certified leadership coach, trainer, keynote speaker, and DISC Behavior Consultant. He is a passionate person of influence committed to teaching and communicating practical and relevant influencing techniques.  His unique passionate and emotionally driven style resonates with many, creating a desire to become an effective leader.  

You can contact Denis at dbaker@leaderinfluence.net for information on coaching, leadership, team and culture change training, DISC Behavioral consulting or to be an inspirational speaker at your next event.

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