Lessons in Leadership: Integrating Courage, Vision, and Innovation for the Future of Sustainable Fisheries
The Keys to Perseverance
It might not be the most glamorous personal trait in the box. It’s not intelligence or charisma or enthusiasm, but my secret to success and the central pillar of my leadership philosophy has staying power. More than anything else, perseverance is the fuel that has propelled me toward my accomplishments.
I imagine perseverance as the resolve you summon from the pit of your stomach during a long race. When you are desperately tired, but you keep on moving. When you can barely put one foot in front of the other, but you still find the energy to encourage your teammates to run the last mile with you. It is when your paper gets rejected and you dust yourself and your coauthors off, fix it up, and submit again. Perseverance is sticking with it.
If I could only give you one piece of advice, I would say, “Cultivate perseverance like a rose garden.” Why? Because developing a strong will to carry on will push you toward your finish line, no matter how winding or rough your path might be. Inevitably, unexpected challenges will crop up in your personal or professional life and you must be able to find it within yourself to problem-solve, redirect, and carry on. All the smarts, talent, and charm in the world won’t help if you can’t pick yourself up and keep moving in the right direction. This capacity is crucial, not only personally, but also in the context of leadership because a cohesive and functional team shares communal goals and faces setbacks together. I believe a good leader helps their team navigate these challenges and compassionately pushes them to continue toward success. However, before a leader can build a culture of perseverance within their team, they must understand how to develop it in themselves first.
I say, you, as an individual and a leader, should cultivate perseverance because I do not believe it is something that we are either born with or not. To me, it is a capacity we can nurture within ourselves and improve over time. I realize that asking you to cultivate perseverance is a bit abstract. It is one thing to know you ought to learn to stick with things and push toward your goals, but it is quite another to be capable of doing so when life throws you a curveball. I think the idea of developing perseverance itself is unclear because perseverance is something that is made possible by a variety of other skills and circumstances. Cultivating perseverance is the cumulative result of finding a goal you believe in and developing a concrete set of skills to help you pursue that goal in the face of adversity. Therefore, this chapter is dedicated to a few key companion skills that help a person become perseverant, how I learned them, and how I think they might improve your capacity to carry on, too.