More than Talent: Career Success Takes Perseverance

This is a leadership lesson from a spider.

Stay with me.

Throughout most of the summer, I’ve had a spider building a web on the driver’s side mirror of my car. While I’m not driving as much these days, I am still driving between 30 minutes to an hour a couple times per week. Each time the web is destroyed by the drive, wind, rain, you name it, yet the next time I go to my car there it is again, shiny and glistening with the spider nearby ready for her daily catch.

Recently my partner and I took a week-long vacation to Torch Lake, Michigan, which is an approximate 8-hour drive from our home. Sadly, I knew this trip would be too much for my resident spider, with speed limits in excess of 70 mph for most of the trip.

We drove to our cabin and settled in for the night. The next morning, there was the web, freshly built, ready again for her catch. She had, apparently, come along with us on our vacation.

She came back home with us too. As I’m writing this a week later she is out there in my driveway still creating, building her web.

The lesson here? Perseverance.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of perseverance is:

“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition”

There will always be challenges in your life, but no matter how smart or talented you are, you won’t be as successful without perseverance. It’s not glamourous, but it’s a skill necessary for success.

Rob Thomas, senior VP of software at IBM reminds us what success actually looks like here:

He’s right. There are no shortcuts to success. Those with perseverance keep trying, keep getting back up, keep moving forward in the face of obstacles. They don’t stop because they are tired, they stop because they have achieved their goal. If you look at any successful person, you’ll find someone who struggled, failed several times, and felt like giving up. But they will tell you they persevered.

There will always be setbacks in your life. Difficult bosses, coworkers you don’t like, naysayers, constraints, whether self-imposed or external. It’s fine to acknowledge your limitations, but remember that you can, with grit, turn obstacles into opportunities.

Be flexible, manage up when needed, and above all, practice perseverance. You have a choice.

Like my spider.

What obstacles have you overcome? Let me know in the comments.

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