Persistence pays off


Obstacles come with the job. Do you have what it takes to keep trying until you achieve your goal?


The biographies of great individuals reflect a common theme: overcoming adversity to achieve success. It's hard to imagine those stories without the hardships.

Let me give you a personal example: My manager asked me to implement a project management methodology. The project managers under me were trained in the methodology, but not all of them applied it. They said they were too busy managing their projects.

To demonstrate how it could add value—to the organization, the client and the project managers themselves—I established a day for “Methodology Q&As” and organized a training session.

Two years passed with several failures—a lack of discipline and management support among them. Although I delivered several training sessions, most of the people still did not implement it. They said, “My manager is not measuring me based on that methodology” or, “We don't see the value.”

But I didn't quit. I kept explaining the value of project management methodology using several methods: face-to-face meetings, upper management meetings and internal newsletters. In the end, 85 percent of the project managers (all of those who needed to) implemented the methodology.

Put Your Skills to the Test

Projects constantly present us with obstacles. While some project managers seem to persevere against any obstacle, others appear ready to give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. Which type are you?

First, rank your persistence on a scale of 1 to 10 in the following areas of your life:

  • Health and wellness: How persistent are you in caring for your health?
  • Investments and wealth management: How persistent are you in investing and managing your wealth?
  • Career achievement: Are you persistently pursuing your career objectives?
  • Relationships: Are you persistent in seeking or establishing relationships?
  • Business opportunities: Are you persistent about generating or pursuing business opportunities?

When you're finished, evaluate your score and ask yourself, are you happy with your responses? Are you closer to 50…or 5?

Here are some ways to cultivate persistence:

1. Focus on the outcome or final objective. Visualization and positive thinking will encourage you to move forward and not be deterred.

2. Seek encouragement from persistent people. Ask them to coach and motivate you.

3. Understand that foolishness and ignorance are different than persistence. To be persistent, pursue the knowledge, skills and/or experience you need to achieve your goals.

4. Avoid shortcuts, ignore negative people and do not fear criticism. Developing persistence takes time. It is always a step-by-step process. Sometimes we have too many negative people around us. Instead, focus on the good. And thank people for their criticism because it provides a great opportunity for you to improve.

You're bound to fail every now and then. The question is: Are you willing to regroup, revisit and revise your approach? Never give up—that's true persistence. PM

Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI Fellow, is an independent consultant who manages projects in Europe and Asia. He is the author of Today Is a Good Day: Attitudes for Achieving Project Success.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI.




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