Patience may be a virtue, but perseverance is a trait to strive for. A working definition of perseverance is being steadfast with my personal actions in spite of difficulty or delay in achieving success. Perseverance requires staying the course and holding true to my values and beliefs while facing challenges.
The front page, the entertainment page and the sports page have some great examples of perseverance from the past month in particular. Let’s start with the front page… Bernie Sanders and Carly Fiorina with their pursuit of presidential nomination from their respective political parties. Despite very low poll numbers at the beginning of the presidential campaigns, both candidates have been slowly climbing in the polls despite initial reviews from pundits that their campaigns would never generate serious consideration for the Party nomination. Sanders is attracting huge crowds as he traverses the country while Fiorina has shined in each Republican Party debate and quadrupled her support in polls.
The sports page: Roberta Vinci. Told by her doubles’ partner that she was concentrating on singles (they had been the world’s top ranked doubles team for three years), Vinci found herself ranked at 29th in the world and a huge underdog to Serena Williams for their match at the US Open. After losing the first set, Vinci told herself, “Have fun, keep the ball in play and run, run and run.” She won the next two sets, and her victory over Williams is considered one of the greatest upsets of all-time in Women’s tennis
The Entertainment Section: Jon Hamm. Nominated for the eighth time as the lead character Don Draper from the TV series Mad Men, he received a standing ovation from the audience when Tina Fay announced Hamm had won his first Emmy. Hamm’s early life was somewhat similar to the character he portrayed as Hamm lived with surrogate parents from the age of ten when his mother passed away. After college graduation and a one year stint teaching at his high school alma mater, Hamm spent a decade in Los Angeles working as a set decorator and waiting tables to earn income until he finally was winning larger acting roles.
I have enjoyed working with clients that demonstrate perseverance in a variety of circumstances. One client had been conflicted about terminating his long-term relationship because his partner was using crystal meth. The client remained in love with his partner, but upset at the friction created whenever the partner was under the influence. The client learned to distinguish his responses between those that were co-dependent, reinforcing the drug use, and were interdependent, that focused on supporting the relationship and partner’s attempts to reduce and eventually cease using. The couple is now enjoying the benefits of a sober home life.
A client in his twenties had been working for a small company of about 75 employees since he arrived as an intern five years ago. During his tenure, he had been promoted to a project manager function which required long hours and consistently responding to customer complaints. He was informed that he could not grow further because the Department Manager positions were filled, and struggled whether to pursue other options. He received an offer from a Fortune 1000 company and now has a salary and benefits such that his wife is able to stay at home with their two young children rather than enroll them in day care while she also returns to the workforce.
The most heartwarming example of perseverance is related to parents who learned that their elementary school aged child had academic challenges related to comprehension and contemplated repeating a school year. The parents openly communicated with the child’s teachers about school performance, and they diligently spent time reading books with the child and investing in software designed to improve the child’s comprehension and retention abilities. The child has now entered middle school in mainstream classes and typically brings home A’s and B’s in almost all of his classes and assignments.
Life can throw curveballs our way. Learning to persevere against challenges takes resiliency and often results in happiness and satisfaction.