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Leadership Traits to Transform Your Life – Perseverance

by Gary Bamberger on July 25, 2011

Following on the heels of my blog about Optimism last month, I chose the “perpendicular” topic of perseverance for this month.  I call it perpendicular because optimism fuels and enhances perseverance enabling people to continue blazing their trail and achieving their goals.  I think of optimism as the “trail magic” that hikers on the Appalachian Trail sometimes experience.

Perseverance Defined

Let’s start with the definition of perseverance:

Dictionary.com
Steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state,etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Wiktionary.org

  1. continuing in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure
  2. persistent determination to adhere to a plan of direction; insistence

Levels of Perseverance

Let’s look at perseverance on a sliding scale.  On one end is patience.  On the other end is tenacity.  Both will help move you forward towards accomplishing your goals.  Patience is more passive, like waiting for someone to get back to you.  Conversely, tenacity is action oriented, like persistently following up with someone until you get an answer.

One factor that determines where people fall on the scale is their level of commitment and conviction to a goal (see the chart below).  The late Christopher Reeve is quoted as saying, “So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”  Christopher Reeve was tenacious.  It’s clear that individuals who are committed to a goal will take action.  The higher the level of commitment and conviction, the more likely people are to be tenacious.  The exception to this rule is people who choose to be victims who are patient and passive regardless of their commitment to their goals.


It takes a lot of courage to be tenacious.  Sometimes there’s an element of fighting the establishment in order to propel your cause forward, which takes courage especially when you’re on the “bleeding edge” of a  movement. Facing your gremlins / saboteurs takes courage. Overcoming the temptation to blame others for what happens takes courage.  And, avoiding judging others because they have a different view takes courage as well.

Perseverance & Transformation

Perseverance is necessary when transforming your life because…well, shit happens.  It could be unintended consequences or people in your life who are holding you back.  It may be some new kernel of wisdom learned through experience that gives you pause or radically changes your goals. If we’re looking for real change in our lives, we must be open to changing more than what we originally thought such as the company we keep, the stories we tell ourselves, the way we treat ourselves and the history we’ve kept.  Perseverance fueled by our commitment and conviction of what will be, along with some trail magic, is what will keep us moving forward.

Inquiries for Pondering

When pursuing your dreams, how committed are you?
Are you being more patient or tenacious in pursuit of your goals?
How are you enhancing your optimism or other trail magic?

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