“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
— President Calvin Coolidge
That quote really resonates with me, especially being an entrepreneur.
I started to think back on my career and realized that concept of persistence is a common thread throughout. For example, I was struck by how many of our largest sales accomplishments were the result of this persistence mentality. How many times did we contemplate giving up on a certain potential account, only to be eventually rewarded with a loyal and profitable customer?
We had a prospect, a good chain with a good reputation that we had been pursuing for almost a decade. Just when things looked promising and we were about to start selling the account, something happened and we went back to square one. We kept saying to ourselves that we should just walk away and that we were wasting our time.
Fortunately, we couldn’t seem to do it. The allure of the possibilities kept us interested. We would say to ourselves that we just might get this account and find that pot of gold. And what about the value and discipline to be persistent and not give up? How do we know that the sale isn’t just around the corner and that our persistence will be rewarded? Any worthwhile breakthrough doesn’t happen overnight … at least in most of the businesses I know.
The struggle for success
As it turned out, after 12 years of pursuing this account, we were finally successful. It is currently one of our largest accounts. We could have easily given up and no one would have blamed us. It’s important to understand that we have always believed that this potential account made sense for us.
If you are certain that a prospect is the ideal account, then it should be on your target list forever until they either become an account or cease to be the ideal account from some new revelation. That is the persistence mindset.
Persistence is a valuable building block of any business. It is why marathon runners struggle for 26.2 miles pushing themselves to the limit to finish the race. It is why explorers spend their whole lives without success, then breakthrough by discovering a new land.
It is why, after countless failures, a revolutionary invention is created. Thomas Edison often spoke of his continued failures in developing the light bulb, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
We need to appreciate that most of our plans and desires won’t work as planned. In business, it’s often three steps forward and two steps back (if you are lucky) and those that have the moxie to withstand the disappointments and setbacks that are inevitable in business are the ones that will prove to be successful. ●
Steven L. Marks is founder and CEO at Main Street Gourmet