This revised article was published in the NCDA's November 2016 Issue of Career Convergence.
Perseverance highlights the career traits needed for overcoming obstacles. Olympians are great examples of perseverance because they consistently demonstrate persistence, focus and the ability to overcome challenges. Take Michael Phelps for instance. When he was young, he was scared to put his face in the water. He started swimming because his older sisters swam, and he realized it was a good outlet for his ADHD, so he powered on. Holding the title for the world’s fastest swimmer required a lot of patience and hard work. Olympic athletes are not the only role models. Although he was often rejected, Vincent Van Gogh had perseverance to follow his passion of serving people through his art, even though he only sold one painting while alive for next to nothing. Now, most of his paintings are sold for millions. Through sharing the stories of others, clients can learn the value of perseverance.
Perseverance is defined as "steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement." Take a closer look at the definition:
The steady persistence...
Persistence is defined as “continued existence or occurrence.” In order for clients to "persist," they must be willing to stick with something for a long period. It’s easy to give up because something is too difficult, monotonous or there is a lack of time or resources. Not everyone can be Olympic medalists or famous artists. However, even smaller goals require persistence. Perhaps your clients want to get a promotion, finish their master’s degree or increase annual revenue. All of which are possible, yet, not without persistence. In fact, if they are not enjoying or being energized at all by the process, ask them to reassess reasons for wanting to pursue it.
Have clients create a time frame for achieving the goal, so they are not working toward something indefinitely. It may take a year, so progress should be assessed frequently (monthly or weekly).
- they may notice progress and continue on, OR
- realize they need to change their direction/method, OR
- decide they are not that passionate about it when it gets too difficult.
It is okay if they want to change their mind. However, they should create a revised goal that would bring the same level of satisfaction. Create another time limit and tell them to reassess frequently.
... In a course of action, a purpose, a state...
In order to persist, the goal setter needs clarity on what they hope to achieve. Social media can distract many from their true purpose and passion. “FOMO” (fear of missing out) is a common problem. On LinkedIn, clients may notice that most jobs are in technology and sales, so they focus on those. Yet they have no experience or desire to work in these fields. On Facebook, it seems that everyone is going on exotic and far away vacations. Therefore, your client wants to find a job that pays more so he/she can take the same type of vacations and post pictures for others to see. And so the cycle continues.
Have clients create a goal(s) that focuses on something they are passionate about. They need to assess who they are and what will bring them satisfaction, rather than pursuing goals to impress or compete with others.
Break the goals down into smaller achievable tasks and write them down.
Have them assess progress consistently and revise as needed.
When they get distracted, they can refer back to written goals. If they are performing tasks that do not align with these goals, they can redirect themselves.
…Especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles and discouragement.
Your clients have decided they would like to pursue something. It could be starting their own business, doing a triathlon or writing about something they are passionate about. They are excited, hopeful, and determined to follow this dream. Then they start second-guessing their decision. They say things like: “How am I going to earn enough money to live off my business? Writing is a great hobby, but there are already too many writers.” They become self-conscious the more they talk about it. Then they start to make justifications for why they can’t do it, instead of admitting it is a passion or talent. “It would be a lot easier to get another job. I don’t own a good bike anyway.” It is easy to talk themselves out of goals, so they do.
Have them work on achieving parts of the goal that come easier, first. It will give them a sense of accomplishment and provide enough energy to power through the challenges.
Encourage them to have realistic expectations. They should not quit their job thinking they will make enough money in the first year to live on. Instead, create a smaller side business first to see if it gets traction.
Teach clients to always be open to changing what is not working. They can ask for help or emulate mentors/idols so they will be able to step out of their comfort zone. If they can keep focus on the end result, the obstacles will be more manageable. When they follow their instincts and believe in the impossible, they too, can power through perseverance.
Eberle, K. (2015). 10 Famous People Who Proved Perseverance Pays Off. Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/leadership/10-famous-people-who-proved-perseverance-pays-off-01242413#p5P9q4w1fOP8wviY.97
Unger, M. (2012). Phelps Out of Water. Retrieved from http://www.baltimoremagazine.net/2012/7/1/phelps-out-of-water