One of my fishing buddies, Marty, reminded me recently how crazy persistent we can be when we want to go fishing. Several years ago, we were presented with a beautiful spring morning, low winds, fantastic sunshine, warming water, and crappie looking to spawn in shallow water. It was a perfect day, so we loaded up, put Marty’s boat into the water and away we went.
Just as we were laughing about all the crappie we would catch that day, our motor shut down. We both knew this boat motor was on its last leg but it had never stranded us.
After about 20 minutes of mechanic work by two people who know nothing about motors, we realized we would have to wave another boat down to pull us back to the boat launch. Luckily, someone came by within five minutes and was happy to do it.
As we sat at the boat launch and looked out at the water, we knew we had to find a way to fish today. Marty said, “I think it is just low on oil and I have some oil in my truck. Let’s try that.” The motor cranked right up when we filled it with oil and we headed out again to slay the crappie.
We got to about the same spot and the motor shut down. We started laughing and realized how stupid it was to head back out without knowing more about what was wrong with the motor.
We were not as lucky this time as we sat for about 30 minutes before someone came by and pulled us to the boat launch. The once-promising fishing trip was over, so we loaded up the boat and took it to the repair shop.
Our persistence to get out on the lake and fish reminded me of how important persistence is to our careers and growing as leaders. Persistence (or grit) is a strength that we all can develop to help us push through barriers. There will always be challenges, setbacks and low points in our journeys. Persistence helps us push through those so we can reach our full potential.
But any strength when taken to the excess becomes a weakness. Our persistence in going back out was a weakness, considering neither knew enough about motors to understand the risk we were taking. This same weakness can happen in our careers and business when we continue to push or invest in something where all the signs say this will not be successful.
Growth happens when we can objectively assess the risks and the opportunities as we persist on our journey.
By the way, our persistence paid off on the backside. Once Marty’s wife heard about us being stranded twice, she agreed that Marty needed a new boat. He bought a new one the next week, and our persistence soared as we found every opportunity to be back on the water.
Be persistent. Don’t fade at the first hint of trouble. Grow your grit to be firmly rooted even when the winds and seas are rough.