High Performance Teams: Persistence

by Jo Anne Nelson on September 5, 2013

I’m an avid reader of Seth Godin’s daily blog. This morning, in a piece entitled The Red Lantern, Seth talks about last place finishers in the Iditarod – the dog sled race in Alaska that is over 1150 miles. They are celebrated with an award called the Red Lantern, an acknowledgement for persistence.

Persistence – steadfast continuance in the face of hurdles or opposition in pursuit of a goal or aspiration – is possibly the most important characteristic any of us can have, develop and practice. Yet, our schools choose not to teach or reward children for persistence.

In the real world, persistence often matters more than talent. High performance teams and cultures hold fast to their vision for the future and doggedly persist in the face of competition, unexpected hurdles and overnight disruptions. Learning, adapting and innovating ahead of the competition, high performance teams refuse to allow encumbrances, either anticipated or unanticipated, to deter their will to win.

While most of us would like the path to success to be direct, short and as smooth as possible, in the real world we are often running our versions of the Iditarod – slogging it out in the cold, trudging through wet snow and battling vicious head winds.

Teams that consistently perform at lower levels allow themselves to be overtaken by the story that they may as well give up because they are, or are close to, last. But high performance teams know and understand that being first is not always the path to winning. What matters is to persist. From time to time, the tortoise beats the hare.

Where can you double down today?

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