Let’s talk about tenacity and perseverance.
Tenacity and perseverance are becoming more and more neglected in this day and age. When I was growing up, hard work, sticking to your guns and seeing things through to the end was admired.
The opposite is true today. Demanding and strenuous activity is frowned upon. If you don’t believe me, just stop and listen to the people around you. You’re likely be surrounded by whiners and complainers. A swan song from the is past is – when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Whiners and complainers do something else when the going gets tough today.
Whiners and complainers drive coaches crazy. I coached a lot of players at every level who thought they were just one step away from the pros. I blame the parents for this. Professional players are a breed apart.
The whiners and complainers take the easy road out when things don’t go as planned. They blame everyone but themselves. Life isn’t fair – never was and never will be. Success is not guaranteed. It’earned.
I have 2 quick stories that will shine some light on this.
The first is about a kid on the west coast who was cut from his high school basketball team. He and his parents sued the coach, the school and the school district because being cut (1) damaged his self-image, (2) was embarrassing for the family and (3) hurt his chances of ever playing in the NBA. This is a real story and a lesson for everything that is wrong about youth sports today.
The second is about a kid on the east coast who was also cut from his high school basketball team. The kid took the exact opposite approach. No whining or complaining. He accepted the fact that he wasn’t very good. He decided then and there he would become the greatest basketball player ever.
He practiced day and night perfecting every aspect of his game. His whole family was behind him 100%. They were a huge source of inspiration and encouragement.
The first kid lost his court case. I have no idea what his station in life is today. The 2nd kid is arguably the best all-around player to ever play basketball. The kid’s name is Michael Jordan.
Tenacity and perseverance are vital to our success. Productivity and focus are the two driving forces behind this. Pride is the result of hard earned success.
A great deal is lost when we lose the ability to be tenacious and persevere. Productivity suffers and we come more easily distracted.
We get a huge boost of self-confidence when we successfully complete a seemingly insurmountable task.
Medical studies show that the loss of tenaciousness and perseverance may be part of the reason why so many people are depressed today. A positive self-worth is an important part of a happy and fulfilled life.
The big question is – can we get these lost virtues back? The answer is yes.
I learned how to do this from John Wooden, the great UCLA basketball coach.
Step one is to get the players to see the big picture through the team’s long term goals and traditions. They need to know they are part of something special.
Step 2 is to get the players to see their role in the team’s success. Everyone can’t be a superstar. Everyone should be hungry for success.
Step 3 is to break down the season into manageable segments where everyone is accountable.
Step 4 is practice. I set goals for each practice session because practice is more than the game itself. Game results are determined before the game ever starts.
I mapped out each practice session in ensure that we were covering all the bases with all the players.
Tenacity and perseverance are learned skills and the only way to develop them is through practice and repetition. Coaching 101 states that learning comes from repetition and application.
Success happens when you’re tenacious and persevere. I want your best effort at all times. Mediocrity isn’t acceptable.
Practice drills are designed to be both manageable and measurable. I wanted them hard enough that it wouldn’t be a cake-walk but not so hard that they would get discouraged and give up.
The idea is to start small and keep upping the ante each day. Learn to persevere when things get hard and do them anyway.
I want to set the example for those around me. Trust me when I say that people notice. Parents need to teach their children that sloppy effort and excuses aren’t acceptable. If you start something, make sure you finish it.
I taught these life skills to my players because they are more than just important. They will serve them throughout school and long after their playing days have ended.
You have the ability to influence people around you. Tenacity and perseverance should be required when you work with others, when you teach them, or when they work for you.
I practice tenacity and perseverance daily and I expect the same from those around me. This is my way of influencing others. I want them to pick up the ball and run with it. They, in turn, will likely pass this onto others as well.
Coaches and leaders need to speak up when they see someone giving up too soon or getting distracted too easily. Tenacity and perseverance are vital virtues that are worth bringing back.
It starts with you. Do your part and set the example. People will take notice.
You may not be able to change pop culture by yourself, but you can change the culture of your team, your family, your business, your workplace and your own small community for the better.
Work hard and never give up.