In these difficult and trying times, it’s easy to be overwhelmed and to ask when will this all end? How much more of this can we take? This is too difficult. I need to turn around, stop, or quit. However, when I think about some of my greatest successes and accomplishments, I notice they came on the backside of something challenging and seemingly overwhelming. Quitting was not the answer to my difficulty; persistence was the answer.

Persistence is a Leader Virtue

A leader without persistence will be distracted by every challenge or uncomfortable circumstance that appears. And if you have been a leader for more than an hour, you know that challenges and uncomfortable situations can happen daily. Developing a persistent mindset requires courage to continue moving forward even when obstacles appear, and the path is unclear.

The Obstacle is the Way

Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman leader, had something to say about this: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” 

Author Ryan Holiday in his book, “The Obstacle is the Way,” explains “In this famous line, what he (Marcus) is suggesting is that—no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable a situation becomes—we always have the opportunity to practice virtue, to use the situation as an opportunity to be our best selves. We don’t control when things get hard, but we always control how we respond. We can show patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity. The things that test us make us who we are.”

The Things That Test Us

It is easy to think of “the things that test us” as obstacles that cannot be overcome, but I have found (and am still learning) that, as Ryan Holiday said in the quote above, “make us who we are.”

Here are four thoughts I am reminding myself during these difficult and trying times. Perhaps they will help you develop a winning perspective as well.              

  1. There is no growth inside your comfort zone. If you are clinging to comfort, you are most likely not growing or moving toward your goals.
  2. Everything worth doing is uphill. Zig Ziglar said, “There is no elevator to success; you have to take the stairs.”
  3. If you are coasting, you are going downhill.  
  4. “Behind mountains are more mountains.” (Haitian Proverb) Meaning, there is no path to success that does not include obstacles. Once you are past one, the next will appear.

Persistence is a leadership quality that is often not mentioned, but without it, you can never be the change agent and motivator you need to be to take yourself and others to the next level.

Change agents/motivators create momentum on their teams and in their organizations even in the difficult times. Through a simple, effective approach the 5 Levels of Leadership workshop is designed to generate a leadership culture and common language as momentum builders. Bring this workshop to your leadership team/organization either in-person or virtually and begin the climb.

Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.