Someone once gave me a great example of persistence: If you were treading water and someone was underneath pulling you down, how hard would you fight to not be pulled under? You wouldnt stop until you’d broken free.
If you were stranded in the forest and needed water to survive would you simply stop after you’d looked for a couple of hours? No. You WOULD find that water. You’d know you were going to find that water, because it’s a matter of life and death.
I believe there is a direct relationship between persistence and your belief. You can achieve as much as you’re willing to give (providing you’re born in a free and able nation).
How badly do you want it?
Let’s take and apply this to your business life, and see the value of persistence in 3 key areas.
1. Persisting in times of adversity, even if you think you have no control
I started my company in 2008, the year of the financial crash. A great start. We specialised as an events and tickets platform for holidaymakers going to Greece.Then came the Greek Crisis between 2012 – 2015. Holidaymakers were literally cancelling their trips to the country after the Greeks rejected reforms in the referendum. I decided this would not affect us. I put into place everything from Q&A pages to pushing for additional prepayments so we and the holiday maker would not be affected if the cash machines stopped working once they arrived.
After plastering ourselves everywhere from Facebook to letters to our customers I had an email from the BBC asking to speak to my contacts in the industry about how badly they were being affected.Was I going to give the BBC the opportunity to speak with my contacts? Never. They were going to speak with me. It took me a couple of emails and two telephone calls (I was living in Florence at the time) to do my deal to speak with the BBC in the UK about the situation in Greece. But eventually they agreed, featuring me and the company twice in a couple of months. We then used this live interview as a trust marketing tool on our website. We had our strongest year, profit and turnover wise, that we’d ever had.
How to deal with it? See how you can make an adverse situation work for you. Imagine you’re a wedding photographer and the government has just introduced an additional 25% tax on all camera purchases. Get in touch with the newspapers and local news agencies and defend your industry and peers! Ten might turn you down; you only need one to say yes and suddenly you have an advantage over all of your competitors after being featured by the news agency.
2. Persistence despite resistance.
No matter your choice, no matter your success, you’ll always find there are people who aren’t happy for you. This is even more true when you run your own company because unfortunately, many people don’t enjoy what they do for a living.
To quote Jim Carrey, they are often doing what they do “out of fear, disguised as practicality.”
People very close to you, friends, perhaps even family, may subconsciencely want you to fail. Because if you succeed to dizzy heights, then it might mean that they made the wrong choice. Even those you know want the absolute best for you will sometimes resist. Half of my own family consistently warned me about the perils of building my own company despite it not earning me a full time wage at the time. Bear in mind that the company was less than a year old. If you’re having a bad day and things aren’t going to plan, this resistance can build up and affect you. You need the belief and the persistence to continue. To self improve, and know your self worth.
How to deal with it? Spend time with people similar to yourself, ideally who are even more successful in business than yourself.
3. Persisting to relentlessly improve!
No one is good at everything. And some things you’ll be naturally better at or more comfortable with than others. The key is picking your battles and being relentless about becoming great at what you decide to improve.
If you’re not willing to persist at investing in yourself then you may as well shut up shop now. It starts with discipline, energy and an unbreakable will to achieve your goal.
I had the opportunity to be featured in Radio 5’s Wake up to Money. It was short notice, and I knew that I mumbled sometimes. I prepared as best as I could by learning almost off by heart the areas I wanted to speak about so that I felt comfortable as soon as I was live. I got up at 4:30am, 2.5 hours before to practice, and work my voice.
I was heavily involved in the EU referendum debates, something I was extremely passionate about. I debated with MPs, business owners and journalists who were much more seasoned than me at addressing large audiences. I got through with knowledge because it was a previous passion of mine. But I knew I had a tendency to be a little “wooden” sometimes. So a few months after I made the decision to become a great public speaker. I hired a voice coach who had trained actors with a musical background for programmes like Glee to imbue my vocals with a sense of positivity and excitement capable of captivating an audience. I’m not there yet, but I’m ten times the speaker I was.
How to deal with it? Make a commitment to excellence. And keep it.
Notes for every time you feel your persistence waning:
- People see the results in 30 seconds. They don’t see the 10,000 hours behind the results.
- Born with talent? Luck? It’s all bullshit. You get out what you put in.
- Speak and spend time with people who have been where you are and succeeded.
- Commit to excellence.