Marie Curie, famous for her discovery of radium and polonium and recipient of a 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics, did not stumble upon success. Far from it. The Curies had to work to make ends meet and performed their research under difficult laboratory conditions.
Quiet and dignified, Mme. Curie has been quoted as saying, “Life is not easy for any of us… We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
The Curies had a vision and the perseverance to reach it. Perseverance is an essential success factor for business owners. Owners also should value and retain employees and managers who possess this kind of “stick-to-it-ness.” You can spot people with the trait by noticing their focus on tasks, their ability to endure despite obstacles. These successful people are tenacious; they don’t give up or run for help when faced with a problem, and they’re invested and engaged in their work.
To identify people who persevere when interviewing new hires, ask questions such as, “Can you tell me about a time when you had to overcome obstacles or solve a complex problem?” or “Have you ever tackled a long-term project that took many steps and weeks of attention to complete?”
Perseverance is more than enduring obstacles; it’s the ability to see into the future at what an organization/department/product or service can be. Once you recognize perseverance in yourself or others, do all you can to reward it. If you or an otherwise awesome employee have vision and passion, but give up a little more easily than you should, tweak your skills, patience, and characteristics that help you persevere. Learn more about how to measure this success factor in yourself and in colleagues or employees, and how to fast track people who can grow your business at Success Factors Inc.
Take your star employees to the next level–make them intrapreneurs! It’s those folks in the organization who are embued with an entreprenerial spirit–we call them Self-Starters. Ignite their talent so that they can take their vision and passion for your company and its products to new heights! Perhaps a better way to do something in your company? A more efficient process? A way to make money with a new product or service?
To create that intrapreneurial culture within the organization, take them back to the basics, then unleash them with the resources and support to go for it!
Follow these steps, identified as Success Factors of successful intrapreneurs:
- Start Now. Share your vision with these talented folks–a vision of what you want the company to achieve. I am stunned by the number of individual contributors that I meet in my work who do NOT have a clue what the oganization’s vision is! The vision doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
- Then task them to integrate the company’s vision into their personal vision of the work they want to do.
- Paint your passion in vivid colors for them. Why is passion important here? How does it show up on a regular basis? Could you point to it, if you saw passion being demonstrated?
- Create a support system so that if things get tough and obstacles appear, you have a system to tackle those challenges to move forward. Perseverance is one of the keys to success.
At Self-Starter Zone, we’re here to help you take that talented bench to success. We can help them reach them full potential, and turn them into high performers. Find out more at Self-Starter Zone (https://successmindedleader.com//). Seriously, start now.
Perseverance Pays Off for New Editor In Chief
Audrey Cooper, the new editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Chronicle, just broke a few barriers. With her promotion, she became the first woman to hold the position in the newspaper’s 150-year history. And at age 37, she also became the youngest woman in the country to hold an editor-in-chief position at any large newspaper.
Of course, “young age” is relative. Cooper has paid her dues. Although she obviously has a passion and talent for the work she does, it’s her perseverance that stands out to me. For one, she advanced from her first job at the paper as assistant metro editor in 2006 through a series of promotions to her most recent position as managing editor in 2013. Admirable, but not the entire story.
In an interview on SFGate, Cooper said that 15 years ago, she applied for an internship at the San Francisco Chronicle three years in a row and was never called back. She worked several other journalism jobs before making her way back to the second-largest newspaper on the West Coast.
When a self-starter has a vision like it appears that Audrey Cooper had, she doesn’t let a setback hold her down. Or in this case, three setbacks early in her career! Cooper also is married with a two-year-old son and leads walking tours in the Bay area.
Self-starters know what many who give up might not get – failure is part of success. Geoffrey Stack of Chicago manages a billion-dollar real estate venture and has never lacked tenacity: “You can’t get discouraged and quit,” says Stack. “You just have to say, ‘Okay, let’s start again.’”
Although passion and vision help self-starters work their way toward their plans and dreams, it’s how they handle inevitable setbacks that really makes them successful. That’s where perseverance and taking risks step up to the plate and keep a self-starter plugging along when others might give up. The less successful have trouble adapting, maybe because their dream isn’t going exactly as they planned or their business will take longer to turn a reasonable profit than they had hoped. A self-starter finds a way to adapt his or her plan.
Here are a few tips for forcing failure’s hand:
- Learn from mistakes, but move on. Dwelling on a failure makes it bigger than it is. Some things are simply beyond our control; one of these is the past. Even if you contributed to the failure, you don’t get a “do-over.” Make up for it next time.
- Don’t take failure as an excuse to give up. Look at it as a reason to draw on other skills you have, seek some advice, and try again.
- Quit comparing yourself to others. You hear more about instant successes, but most self-starters faced plenty of failures before they succeeded.
“Tenacity/perseverance is No. 1,” says Mike Colwell, who runs Plains Angels, an Iowa angel investor forum, and the accelerator Business Innovation Zone for the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “So much of entrepreneurship is dealing with repeated failure. It happens many times each week.” When failure happens, you have to start all over again.
This example truly personifies perseverance: Jett McCandless was a partner in a fast-growing freight logistics operation. But the rapid expansion triggered mistakes, including an invoicing glitch that left the company without enough cash reserves. The business had to be sold for a fraction of its value. McCandless didn’t agree to the terms and was fired. He lost the company house and car and wound up moving into his girlfriend’s apartment. “It was a very tough time,” he recalls. “I came very close to going bankrupt.”
He went on 25 job interviews and got offers for logistics positions paying $200,000 and up. But McCandless, who grew up in Section 8 public housing, wondered, Should I take a comfortable, secure job, or could I build something better? “I was afraid that failure could define the rest of my life, and I wasn’t going to let that happen,” he says.
So rather than accept one of those big offers, he started over, founding a new company, CarrierDirect, in Chicago. Hamstrung by the noncompete contract with his previous firm, he created a wholly new space in the logistics field. Instead of matching shippers with truckers, he switched to consulting, providing marketing and sales for logistics companies. In two years CarrierDirect grew to $35 million in revenue. “I’m glad I didn’t take one of those corporate jobs,” he says now.
Now how’s that for success?
Simon Sinek, thought leader and author, sent out an inspirational statement today: Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. I think he’s either copying me or maybe, he is even reading my blog? In any event, you know that self-starters possess three fundamental success factors: Passion, Vision, and Perseverance. These three need to be clearly aligned with the company’s vision and passion. That’s when miracles happen, goals are achieved, accomplishments realized. That’s when you have employees that love their work and their company.
Check out my blog about the car rental company to see what happens when these success factors are NOT in play.
Life does not go in a straight line. What we plan for doesn’t happen; what we didn’t plan for does! Be it divorce, parents’ death, kids leaving the nest, a firing, a promotion, leaving the military, turning another decade—life just keeps coming at us.
These life events usually involve reflection—whether it’s “What now?” or “Oh, boy!” –about what these occurrences mean to your life, your career, your business, your future.
We firmly believe at www.SelfStarterZone.com that going back to the basics, focusing on the Big Three—Passion, Vision, and Perseverance—will hold you in good stead. It means thinking through:
1. What does your new vision look like, feel like, sound like? Can you see it in your mind’s eye? Where are you sitting, living, working?
2. In the past, what talents or strengths have been awarded or rewarded? Those talents and strengths are what will give you energy and enthusiasm. If you’ve lost your way, reach out to family and friends and ask them: When you think of me, what words/strengths/talents comes to mind? In those answers, you will find or renew your passion.
3. If you have passion and vision firmly aligned, adversity and obstacles that step in your way will be easier to confront. Put a group of advisors together, hire a coach, find a mentor who can help you over, through and around the rough patches.
In the Northwest, Nordstrom is a beloved company—it started here and thrives here. Their customer service is legendary. When you walk into one of the stores, you expect to receive good service; but exemplary service requires a shout-out to the employee and the company!
You know by now—and my self-starter interviews support it—that self-starters are alive and well in all kinds of workplaces, contributing to their companies in all kinds of ways.
Meet Andrew in shoes, Nordstrom self-starter! Tall, professionally dressed and approachable.
I’m always in a hurry and have limited time; I was on the hunt for a pair of boots. Now I’m fashion kind of person, so they needed to be warm, attractive and reasonably priced. Done!
But the part of the experience that was the stand-out was Andrew’s seamless approach to solving problems: They didn’t have my size. I had to fly the next day.
Without skipping a beat, he found the shoes, asked for the hotel’s address and confirmed they would be delivered BEFORE I arrived at the hotel!
Andrew: self-starter. Works with passion and vision, and perseveres to get to the goal.
PS: It’s no wonder — He’s already been recognized by the company several times!
Writers and other creative entrepreneurs probably receive more rejections than most. It’s a competitive world, requiring a thickskin. A recent story by Bob Greene on CNN tells how one writer, Chuck Ross, once turned rejection in his favor and made a name, and writing career, for himself.
Ross is a classic self-starter. In brief, after realizing that agents and publishers weren’t even reading the mystery manuscript he submitted, Ross submitted a verbatim top-seller to see if they would bite at it. He submitted the copied top-seller without the real title or author’s name, and sat back to wait for 27 reviews. Not a single agent or publisher bit on the National Book Award winner.
The lesson? First, Ross took the rejection of someone else’s work even less personally than he had viewed rejection of his own writing. Second, he made lemonade out of lemons. Ross submitted a feature article to a local magazine about the best-selling manuscript submission and rejection. Soon, he was landing plenty of writing work and quit his day job.
After all, what Ross really wanted was to be a writer, and now he was making a solid living at it. This self-starter, who dreamed big, but was willing to adjust his vision, took risks and kept his passion alive. As for rejection, he laughed at it in the face and in print. And he won.
How can you take a similar situation and use it to your advantage?
A BNY Mellon ad this morning in The Wall Street Journal (September 5, 2013) caught my eye. “Vision is just imagination if you aren’t prepared to act.” That’s certainly part of our mission: to get professionals to see their vision and then move forward with passion and perseverance. That’s what separates us from Self-Starters; self-starters move forward whether they’re scared, tired, discouraged or enthused. One foot in front of the other—progress.