Persistence Pays Off
Do you know how long it took Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Just over four years. Four years. On one project. Wow. Good thing Michelangelo doesn’t live in an era where our average attention span is 8 seconds.
But look at what resulted. One of the most globally recognized paintings in history.
Michelangelo’s work on the Sistine Chapel randomly came to mind this weekend as I was reflecting on a project I’ve been working on for about six months now. I needed to remind myself that achieving goals requires PERSISTENCE.
You can’t expect overnight success and immediate results, particularly when you’re aiming for sustainability. Think about campaigns, new programs, or change efforts for example. Right about the time you start to get sick of it, others are just starting to tune in and get curious about it.
So how can we be persistent about the goals we’ve set out to achieve? And, how can we cultivate persistence amongst others when we’re working as part of a larger team?
Keep your eye on the prize. If it’s an extensive project, you’re bound to get lost in the weeds. Pull yourself out from time to time and remind yourself of the larger end goal. Make sure your actions are always strategically directed at that end goal.
Assess the project rationally. Don’t let emotions like frustration and possibly even rejection take over. When we throw in the towel and stomp away, no one wins. Think about what changes you might need to make to your original approach and be willing to make them.
Put yourself in others’ shoes. Think about those less involved in the day-to-day details of the project; maybe even the target audience you’re trying to impact. Meet them where they are and make sure you’re addressing the needs they need fulfilled. You will likely already be three steps ahead, which isn’t always a good thing.
Keep the project team engaged and motivated. You can do this in several ways, such as:
- Break the larger project into smaller chunks so that a “newness” comes with each phase.
- Recognize and celebrate milestones at various points along the way.
- Take time off to focus on something else…even if just very temporarily. You’ll come back refreshed.
Mentally prepare yourself to deal with unforeseen roadblocks. Michelangelo didn’t want the Sistine Chapel project to take four years, and in fact, several of the reasons it took so long were beyond his control – damp weather and illness to name a few. But these things came up, and he dealt with them, and his original game plan changed. There will be detours and roadblocks that effect your project. Period. Persistence will help you get through them.
But (There’s Always A “But”)
Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance. ~ Anthony J. D’Angelo
Sometimes we give it our all and it just wasn’t the right path, for whatever reason. Trust good mentors and colleagues and be receptive to feedback to know when to let your persistence go.