I enjoyed a great workshop with some of the good people at Huddle this week and, during a discussion about the need for persistence, one delegate said, “But don’t you also have to know when to give up?”
How very true. Persistence is a great quality, but persistence without wisdom is a curse.
Many years ago I passionately wanted to be a musician. I had a bagful of songs which I’d written, threw in my job and gathered some talented people around me to form a band. We grafted for several years before, one wintry afternoon, I had a damascene moment: I suddenly realised that I didn’t have what it takes to succeed in the music business.
That realisation also came as a very bitter blow; I knew that some people had the natural musical talent that draws success magnetically to them. Reluctantly, I had to accept that I would need to work twice as hard to make my small talent attract itself to others.
It’s the same with working life. Just because you occupy a position doesn’t necessarily mean that you have what it takes – the natural flair and blend of skills – for the role.
How many managers have you come into contact with whom painfully lack the basic temperament, skills or facility to manage? How many customer service agents have left you speechless with indignation as they do everything within their power not to serve you, their customer? How many salespeople have you encountered who’s patronising and demeaning manner have offended you so much, you wouldn’t buy what they’re offering, even if it was the last place on earth to get it?
No, the wisdom to know when to persist and when to change tack is a crucial asset to have. It means you spend less time trapped, floundering in a role which stresses you all the more because the match of your skills and those demanded by the job are so out of kilter.
Happy the person that works in a role that snugly wraps itself around their talents and abilities. As the writer and thinker Anthony D’Angelo so nicely puts it: “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.”
Now I’m off to play my piano.