“Follow your bliss and the world will open doors where there were only walls.” ~Joseph Campbell
Sixteen years ago, I decided to become an executive coach and a year later left the corporate environment to start my own business. It was a heady time with the excitement about becoming my own boss and the prospect of helping executives to become great leaders. I had the work knowledge and experience for this and I’d taken an extensive certificate program on coaching. I felt I was ready.
However, what I didn’t know was how hard I had to work to get clients. I had a ton of passion about what coaching could do for individuals and organizations with no idea about how hard I’d need to work to begin to make a living. Passion was certainly important but there was one other thing that clearly opened the doors for getting the work that would pay the bills for the long haul: persistence.
Passion is the fire that drives you forward. Persistence will keep you effective for the long run. Passion and persistence are true companions for your long and successful career. Together, they will see you through your greatest triumphs and your darkest hours.
Both passion and persistence come from inside of you, but you may also need external support from others to remain persistent. And you’ll need it long-term, not just in your first leadership experience. Consider the following internal and external motivators:
Know yourself: You can be a leader in all kinds of ways, and in all kinds of organizations. What specifically are you passionate about? What sparks your persistence? You might be inspired by learning new things, the end result you’ll achieve, or by helping other people. When you know what your internal motivations are, you’ll have a better chance of landing in situations that will draw on those and help you to stay the course.
Nurture your network continually to get the support you need. Believe it or not, most people will want to help by lending a listening ear or providing sound advice. Some supporters will be good for one or the other, so seek out those you need and be specific in asking how they can help. And of course you’ll want to reciprocate in some way when you can.
Stay fresh in your profession and in your leadership. There is always something new to learn! Read, take classes (even those that aren’t directly related to what you do! Have you considered learning a new language or instrument?) and be curious. There are so many ways to learn about yourself, others, and the work you do. When you stay fresh in your learning, your leadership passion and persistence will continue.
Look ahead to see what’s next for you and your leadership. All leaders need to have goals and something “out there” in the future to look forward to. It may be a specific project or behavior that you want to take on to get better at leading others. Imagine the satisfaction when you are successful. These will reignite your passion and further your resolve to be persistent at being the best you can be.
Passion is a great thing, but it needs its companion of persistence to reach great heights and to have your leadership be sustainable. Knowing what fuels both are the key to your leadership success.