Here is an excerpt from Leadership Matters. It contains 31 daily insights to inspire extraordinary results.

day 22: Perseverance

When I was a senior in high school, I participated in a mock congress with fellow seniors from throughout the state of Florida in a program called Boys’ State. It was held in Tallahassee, the state capital and hosted at Florida State University, which eventually become my alma mater. More importantly, it provided a first-hand lesson in perseverance for me. Let me explain.

During the course of the week at the state capital in Tallahassee, we learned about legislative issues, primarily by acting them out and holding mock elections for a variety of political offices. I figured, “Hey, I’m only here once. Why not just go for it?” So I ran for a lower-level position the second day, but lost to another student. No problem, I can take rejection.

Then I tried for a slightly higher office the next day, but I lost again. Now the stakes got higher – more prestigious offices were on the line and a bruised ego that needed repair. I tried again but no victory. The next day again … nope! I have to win at some point, right?

One more time I submitted my petition, made the rounds, and cast my vote. Votes finally came and I kept my perfect record: 0 wins, 5 losses.

Well, now we were down to the last day of the program and only the highest offices were left to be filled – the Governor’s cabinet. Here’s where the real campaigning kicks in. Pressing flesh, addressing the issues, oh yea, and making a speech in front of 1,000 of my fellow students (most of whom had won some type of office by now). With five defeats under my belt, there was nothing much left to lose.

With shaking knees and sweating palms, I made my first big speech (thank goodness for lecterns!) as I ran for Commissioner of Education. I decided to make perseverance one of my issues – it certainly seemed relevant, to me at least. All told, at least I left the week with a 1-and-5 record, but my one victory was the one that really counted. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius? Nothing! Sticking to it is the genius! … I’ve failed my way to success.”

Unfortunately, most people fail because they don’t stick to it long enough to succeed. Fortunately for me, at that young age, I was naive enough to keep pushing forward in spite of my failures. Sticking to it long enough to win is a common defining moment for many leaders. These moments are so memorable because they often test our faith in ourselves and our teams.

Since we cannot always see the tangible results of our leadership, we must trust that doing the right things will yield the desired results. We demonstrate this faith in everyday things, but somehow it seems more challenging with our teams.

The life of an inspiring leader works much the same way. Sometimes, it might seem as though our teams are not getting it, then we finally see the positive results of our efforts. Trust that your efforts will yield the excellence you pursue. And against all odds … persevere!

Action Questions:

1. When have I persevered against all odds to achieve a goal?

2. What is one project, goal, or relationship that I need to keep persevering on, having faith that my efforts will eventually pay off?


Leadership Matters is full of simple truths that everbody can us in their work and life.  Read this little book and thoroughly consider its timeless messages.  It will make you a better leader and a better person.

Ken Blanchard
Co-author, The One Minute Manager and Great Leaders Grow