After many years working in business and investing in startups, I’m convinced that the primary reason for new business and career failures is NOT a lack of skill or money, but people giving up too quickly on their dreams and goals. Great businesses and great leaders never give up, especially as pivots and interim failures provide learning opportunities to recover from setbacks.
Thomas Edison is a classic example. The first electric bulb was actually invented by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan, who demonstrated the concept, but gave up trying to develop a practical product after only three attempts. By contrast, Edison persevered and designed a working light bulb after thousands of failures. He went on to start many successful companies, including General Electric.
I recently found a wealth of practical guidance on how to build a perseverance mindset and use it to overcome adversity, break through barriers, and keep moving forward to success, in a new book, “Win When They Say You Won’t,” by Daphne Jones. She is a former Fortune 50 executive and innovation thought leader who developed her own actionable system to overcome obstacles.
Adding my own insights from experience, I will summarize here her five key principles for persevering and finding success in business, despite the setbacks and barriers that we have all faced:
Be resilient and treat setbacks as a distraction. We all encounter issues and challenges as we pursue our goals in business. Building your resilience by never giving up as you work to neutralize these will get you back to executing your plan of action, rather than letting stress and fear of failure drive you to throw in the towel.
It’s worth the effort because of the impact that resilience (or lack thereof) has on our behaviors, attitudes, outcomes–and even health. Research has found that people with low resilience are four times more likely to experience burnout, or even premature death.
Don’t let anyone kill your dreams and passion. The challenge here is to choose your friends and relationships carefully. You will learn to recognize that some friends and colleagues are always downers, and get their satisfaction from snuffing out your aspirations through negative thinking. Avoid these and build relationships with winners.
In my experience, you unintentionally tend to think and act like the people you spend time with. People who associate with quitters tend to become quitters themselves, rather than the other way around. Broaden your sources, including industry speakers and experts.
- Focus on your performance, image, and exposure. No matter what is going on in your business as you work toward your personal vision, always be sensitive to your exposure, image, and personal brand. You need to take responsibility for selling your value to the right people, as well as building relationships with leaders who can help you.
A first step is empowering yourself to achieve success and feel satisfaction from doing your job. Empowerment starts by developing a small set of specific achievable goals for the period ahead and then pushing yourself to achieve and celebrate completed results.
Build and maintain your emotional intelligence. You need to ensure that you are executing a viable plan with self-awareness, self-control, empathy, and good communications. Don’t be hesitant to use coaches, mentors, and other resources to test and improve your image by others, and your perceptions of business realities and biases.
Based on my many years of experience in business as an executive and consultant, I have long been convinced that emotional intelligence (EQ or EI) in business wins over logical intelligence (IQ) every time. Don’t let your and their emotions drive your actions.
Keep thoughts, actions, and results growth-oriented. Your mindset needs to stay fixed on learning and change, rather than risk-averse and negative. Be willing to pivot or persevere, but never quit. If you don’t like the results you are getting, seek to change the way you think. Your thoughts determine your actions, so stay confident as you iterate.
Begin by asking more questions and being more curious about everyone you meet, their journey, experiences, and what they can teach you. There is always more to learn, and great business leaders, including Bill Gates, still block out calendar time for learning.
In summary, perseverance is essential in the workplace because it allows you to continue working towards your goals even when things get tough, and they will get tough. The business world today is very competitive, and customers are more and more demanding. I urge you to practice the strategies outlined here and maximize your business survival and success today.
*** First published on Inc.com on 11/10/2022 ***
Go to Publisher: Startup Professionals Musings