An excellent book on the early life of Teddy Roosevelt* highlights the importance of persistence in this remarkable person’s life. While TR came from an affluent, well-respected family he often left people with an odd first impression. As a young man he was intense, had an aloof nature, and his high pitched voice with singular pronunciation pattern had people thinking he had a speech impediment. He was not often taken seriously by people – initially. He either did not notice or never cared. Most early acquaintances would not have predicted that he would go far in a political life.
What he did have in great measure was persistence. It was seen in his early work as a New York state representative (volumes of bills were offered by his committees) and also in his Dakota ranch days, which included one adventure where he escorted (on his own and at gun point) three confessed thieves 45 miles to the “local” sheriff’s office – on foot.
In addition to persistence in the face of skepticism from others, there probably is not one aspect of leadership impact that cannot be boosted by persistence. Some examples:
-helping a high potential to continue to develop even when the “golden boy/girl” shine is gone
-seeking ways to advocate a point of view when initial reaction of peers is tepid
-shifting a culture from current state to aspirational state
-communication of key strategic initiatives until people “get it”
As a leader, are there activities in front of you that would benefit from more persistence?
*Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by David McCullough