There are a lot of qualities needed and required in starting and running your own business: intelligence, creativity, ambition, are all required in some measure if you hope to overcome the barriers to entry into entrepreneurship. While the virtue of our system is that ostensibly anyone can start their own business, there is a test of those innate characteristics in the undertaking that ultimately determines those who pursue that path from those who don’t. It’s an obvious oversimplification, certainly; there are barriers to entrepreneurship that have little to do with ability that prevents many from even trying, yet even in a just world with any such barriers removed and equal access granted to all there would still be those who would fall just short by the very nature of the enterprise. Even the best among us get it wrong sometimes.
Focused young african american businesswoman or student looking at laptop holding book learning, … [+]
What’s perhaps underappreciated, or less considered, is the role that our determination to go on plays in the ultimate success of our business. It’s our brains that elevate us to a place where we’re able to pursue our dreams with a company of our own, but it’s often hard heads and stiff backs that enable it to continue on. Perseverance and persistence are equally crucial in the work required to turn a business into a viable enterprise, given the challenges and roadblocks thrown up along the way.
And yet perseverance is a quality that gets less than its due in our documentation of success stories. We’d much sooner praise genius and creativity, both ethereal and aspirational and easily recognizable as something special and inspiring in the masses. And as we like to think genius effortless, we elide the work and the iteration that was required to arrive at that point. Determination and a refusal to quit are well-suited to the scrappy underdog stories we put up on screen, but they sully our notions of our elites, so the machinations are left behind the curtain.
None of us get to where we are in life without some level of grit and perseverance. There are those of whom more is unfairly asked in the way of perseverance by virtue of their birth, and others for whom advantages are immediately accrued by that same birth, but with few exceptions all will face challenges great and small throughout their life, ones that we simply have to push our way through. On those occasions our intellect and ambition may help us navigate the challenge, but it’s our ability to withstand those trials that will ultimately see us to the other side.
The life of our businesses often play out much as life itself does: we try, we fail, we get lucky and fall onto bad luck and occasionally make our own luck, and eventually everything ends one way or another. Things will break against you and your business far more often than you’d like, and probably more than you feel is fair. In times like that we have to be able to put our heads down and keep at it when it might seem easier to give up, or more cathartic to sit in your office and complain about the unfairness of the universe. Occasionally those bad breaks will be of your own doing; mistakes are as much a part of your business as they are of life, and sometimes those mistakes have consequences in the immediate and down the road. We could again just give up and throw in the towel, but instead we persevere and work to correct what we can and work past what we can’t.
Perseverance might not be the coolest or most exciting trait, and certainly not the one we’d want to be our calling card professionally; features and hagiographies aren’t written about those who did passable work but really stuck with it long past when others would have quit. We want to be brilliant and create something great, to be known for the work that we do and the qualities related to that brilliance. Maybe we don’t necessarily want the media attention (not that we’d say no), but we want quality and creativity to be the words associated with us at least in the minds of customers. But in order to get there, we need that persistence, that perseverance, to allow us to achieve those goals in the face of obstacles that would otherwise derail us. #onwards.