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energy to our purpose; and perseverance is the driving force that enables us
to stay the course in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds. I believe that
perseverance serves as the driver and leverage point for a leader’s core values.
Some new and aspiring leaders exhibit self-limiting behavior and speech.
They start a project, run into an obstacle, and throw their hands up and say,
“Oh, this is not working. We had better give up the project.”
Effective leaders take a different approach. They realize that to achieve
something that is worth doing there will be obstacles in their pathway toward
success. However, these leaders view their challenges as opportunities to
learn, grow, and develop. They work hard to develop new strategies and new
perspectives. I like to think of an obstacle as a metaphorical steep hill that I need to
climb. To be successful I must be persistent in building up the physical and men-
tal stamina I need in order to persevere and conquer that hill. So if it appears
that a project that I am working on is going awry, I must build up the intellec-
tual, problem-solving stamina to make a midcourse correction in order to meet
with success. I must exhibit a realistic, can-do attitude that comes from a sense
of learned optimism, self-confidence, and the need to persist. In other words, I
must persevere until I remove the obstacle and accomplish my goal. However,
as I accomplish that goal, I am well aware that the stamina I’ve build up will be
coupled with new stamina that I will need for the next steep hill I must climb.
Courage takes on several meanings for a successful leader. Courage means
keeping in mind the interests of the people that you serve. Being a leader with
courage means that you understand the importance of your organization’s mis-
sion and that you are willing to take bold steps on behalf of that mission.
Great leaders must also have the courage to acknowledge what is missing
from their organizations and even from society. With courage, they must con-
front workplace incompetence, the failure of educating all children, and an
absence of social justice. Only then can they implement positive change.
Just as important, courageous leaders must be able to check up on them-
selves. To be a courageous leader, you must have the courage to confront your-
self about your contributions to either the success or failure of an endeavor.
My experience has taught me that showing courage means not automatically
blaming others for a project’s shortcomings. Rather, showing courage means