Good Work: Persistence

Outside a little mountain cabin nestled up against a creek between snow covered peaks, we stared into a crackling fire and contemplated an uncertain future.  Bill was unsure of what the future would hold after the company he worked for had been acquired and downsizing plans had been announced.  As a retired military officer and contractor he had been around the block a time or two but somehow this time was different, it was out of his hands.
“Regardless of who they choose it will work out you know. It’s just that I don’t want to be looking for work at 52.” Bill continued, “You know, this stuff happens, it’s just not knowing that gets old. But I know how to play the game.”
Bill was in corporate sales, “I just keep putting up the numbers year after year.” But he heard that half the sales staff would be laid off.
The cabin, which his father built, is part of the anchor in his life – a place he can go to make sense out of a crazy world, a place were his identity is renewed.  Always in the middle of a couple of projects at the cabin, he gives himself completely to the work that provides cheap therapy and an opportunity to leave a legacy.  He built a bunkhouse for his grandchildren and none of his children are married.  Bill approaches his job and his hobby with the same intensity and persistence.  He knew that he would end up on his feet if he lost his job. But the thought of being back in the job market a few years before his military pension would kick in was unsettling.
Bill is one example of the millions of people that are unemployed, underemployed, or facing employment insecurity.  Folks like Bill give it their all and serve their customers with a smile, yet find themselves in lousy situations uncertain of their future in a plodding globalized economy.
As Bill stared into the fire and listen to the crashing sounds of the nearby creek he knew – not about the job, but about his ability to persevere through another difficult situation.  His persistence is rooted an identity as strong as the foundation of his cabin and grounded in beliefs shaped during his Jesuit education.  Bill is persistent, constant to a purpose even in the face of adversity.
Bill got the job.  It may have been the simple business plan that he shared with the new president, “Step 1: sell until I puke and then sell some more, step 2: repeat step 1.”  That is persistence.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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