Persistence and Determination

Why is it when some companies are faced with challenging times like economic downturns, shifting customer preferences, or new, restrictive legislation some companies are able to face those challenges and make it through while others end up failing? Why is it when some people are faced with obstacles and challenges, they give up and quit, while others pick themselves up and keep going and succeed? The to overcoming obstacles is persistence and determination. Here are some fascinating tales of persistence and determination.

At midnight on January 17th, 1920, America became a dry country under prohibition. At that time there were over 1300 breweries operating in the United States but after 13 years of prohibition less than 100 breweries still survived. The fact that so many breweries did not survive is not a big surprise. What were their options? They were in business of selling alcohol. Alcohol was now illegal. What could they do? They really only had three options: 1. Continue producing and selling alcohol. That would mean they would be breaking the law and would face possible imprisonment and fines. 2. Accept defeat and quit, which a lot of them did. 3. Change course and adapt.

The Miller Brewing Company decided to change course and adapt. They started producing soft drinks, malted milk, and malt syrup. Pabst Brewing Company also started selling malt syrup and soft drinks. They also leased a part of their plant space to the motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson. Pabst also diversified their product offering by selling cheese which they ended up selling off and it became Kraft. Coors also started selling malted milk and they diversified by shifting some of their resources into ceramics and pottery. They tapped in their local natural resources of clay in Colorado to make everything from tea sets and dinnerware to spark plugs and labware. The porcelain company now known as Coorstek thrived and is today one of the largest engineered ceramics manufacturers in the world.

The persistence and determination of those companies’ leaders is what led them to succeed. They used determined action, combined with ingenuity, to look at new previously unexplored paths, which lead them to overcoming incredible obstacles.

What about individuals, everyday people? How do everyday people use persistence and determination to succeed? There are millions of examples of people who have come from incredibly disadvantaged situations who have used persistence and determination to achieve success. Think about Ray Charles. He was blind, poor, a minority, and orphaned by the age of 15. He became one of the most influential and successful American musicians of all time. How about Michael Jordan? He was cut from his high school basketball team. What if he had accepted that defeat and quit basketball? How about Walt Disney? He was fired from one of his first jobs at the Kansas City Star newspaper because he wasn’t creative enough. These are some great examples of really famous people who used persistence and determination to succeed. But how about some regular, everyday people? Let’s take a look at Maggie.

Maggie had worked in the corporate office of a national retailer for years. She really wanted to have the opportunity to be the director of stores, but she kept getting passed over for that position. Maggie started looking for a job with other retailers who were searching for a director of stores. She applied time and time again. She would make it to the interview process but whenever they asked her directly about her prior experience as a director of stores, she had to disclose that she had never had that direct responsibility. That was when the interview processing ended. She applied and interviewed with dozens of retailers, getting rejected over and over again. Finally, one retailer decided to take a chance on her. They hired her to be their director of stores. It had taken her four years and countless rejections, but she had landed her dream job. Then, one year later, the owners promoted her to president of the company.

At any point in any of these stories, the individuals could have decided to give up. They could have looked at the situation and felt the obstacles were insurmountable. They could have accepted the rejection or the judgment that other people made about them and their abilities as the truth, but they didn’t; they persevered. They were determined to keep moving forward.

Challenges and obstacles are a normal part of business, and of life. There will be delivery delays, supply chain disruption, flat tires, and missed flights. It doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down. What matters is how many times we get back up and keep pressing forward. What matters is how persistent and determined we are because it isn’t necessarily the smartest who achieve success. Most of those who achieve success are the ones who refused to quit.

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