On Endurance

By Scott Westerman
 The signature of the truly great vs. the merely successful is not the absence of difficulty. It’s the ability to come back from setbacks, even cataclysmic catastrophes, stronger than before. ~Jim Collins

Whenever I need a refresher in the fundamentals of great leadership, I return to Jim Collins and his seminal work, “Good to Great“. Within it’s pages are the formulae for consistent success.

It’s not easy, it can’t be about you, it is based on a clear vision of purpose and values, it requires discipline, persistence, the courage to deal with the worst and the faith to ultimately expect the best.

One of Jim’s best essays touches on a key trait that is common to every individual who makes the decision to survive and thrive, no matter what: Endurance.

Here are his words:

“Never give in. Be willing to kill failed business ideas, even to shutter big operations you’ve been in for a long time, but never give up on the idea of building a great company. Be willing to evolve into an entirely different portfolio of activities, even to the point of zero overlap with what you do today, but never give up on the principles that define your culture. Be willing to embrace loss, to endure pain, to temporarily lose freedoms, but never give up faith in your ability to prevail. Be willing to form alliances with former adversaries, to accept necessary compromise, but never—ever—give up on your core values.

“The path out of darkness begins with those exasperatingly persistent individuals who are constitutionally incapable of capitulation. It’s one thing to suffer a staggering defeat—as will likely happen to every enduring business and social enterprise at some point in its history—and entirely another to give up on the values and aspirations that make the protracted struggle worthwhile. Failure is not so much a physical state as a state of mind; success is falling down—and getting up one more time—without end.”

What does this mean for us?

Be willing to walk away when the situation no longer is in sync with your values. Reinvent yourself when necessary. Endure the pain. Stay true to your purpose and values. Have faith that you will prevail. Develop the discipline to constantly push your flywheel forward. Keep getting up when you stumble.

And to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Never give up, never give up, never, never, never!”