6 Ways To Encourage Persistence (Without Crushing Your Team)

“Persist through CRAP.Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure.”

Persistence– the common denominator of success. Dissect the stories of highly successful people across any context: relentless commitment, radical hours, laser focus, tremendous sacrifice. I’m always inspired by the stories of those who’ve “made it.” Bottom line, highly successful people have an abnormal commitment to their vision (hear from Michael Phelps, Will Smith and others in this short video. Cliff’s notes: work your butt off and be relentlessly persistent.
You can’t expect your entire team to care that much or live like that. But, connecting your team to a powerful vision and encouraging desire to achieve it, is vital when developing your people.

Teach the power of persistence.

 6 Ways to Encourage Persistence

  1. Model Obsession – I’ve been called a “maniac” and “obsessed” more than once in my quest to develop great leaders and winning organizations.

    I get what Phelps and others say in the above video. There’s truth to Will Smith’s confession, “I’ve never seen myself as particularly talented. Where I excel is a ridiculously, sickening work ethic. The person that works the hardest wins.”

    Model persistence to your vision. Be a positive maniac for what you believe in. Your energy will inspire.

  2. Empathize to Energize – If they’re frustrated and disappointed chances are you are too. Many leaders pile on with additional pressure. I’ve NEVER seen that help.

    A better choice is to acknowledge your feelings, and work from there. “I know we both wanted this project to be successful, and it’s not going the way we want. I understand your frustration. I’m feeling it too. Let’s brainstorm the best solution from here.

  3. Leverage Success – When someone’s down it easy to remember all the other bad times. Help them to recall their prior successes.

    Mine past wins to inspire future solutions.

  4. Break Down Frustration – Frustrated feels overwhelming. There’s nothing more intimidating that a stack of against you odds. Help them break down the problem into attainable solutions. Celebrate the small wins.
  5. Outline Options – Stuck sucks. See beyond closed doors. Ask questions to identify options. Options empower and inspire perseverance.
  6. Encourage Relationships – Most frustration and failure involves relationship breakdowns. Encourage stakeholdering and communication. Help them identify potential supporters. If there’s a real jerk involved, work a squeeze play by surrounding him with supporters of your idea.
Posted in Employee Engagement & Energy, Results & Execution and tagged , , , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.


  1. One of the best ways to inspire is to model the desired behavior. People do what people see. Another powerful approach is to catch team members doing something right and praise this activity publicly. Great insight Karin!

  2. Great advice- I took over as a Pgm mgr on a large contract with multiple issues as described and have applied alot of these techniques and we are slowly making progress . I find that open communication with the client and team members is critical- acknowledging the issues and past performance in a calm manner, especially with angry people, helps and reminding everyone that finding solutions one st a time is in everyone’s best interest and helps to change the focus forward.

  3. Encouraging persistence sounds like motivating.

    When people hear I’m a coach, they say “OH, you’re a motivator!”


    If I have to motivate you, it means you don’t want to do “IT” whatever “IT” is in the first place.

    If they really want to crush their goal, I uncover what values drive their behavior. Could be: Money, Learning, Individualism, Sharing their reason for living, Aesthetics or the subjective experience, Social and helping others, etc.

    Once I know why they behave, I leverage their motivator and magic happens.

    • Thanks, Steve for these words. We all know that positive motivators are preferred over negative ones! I think of negative motivators — fear, pain, worry. While I might appear to be “all out” and energetic because of motivators like these, I am not acting from freedom. So I really really appreciate your point about motivation must be from inside oneself. And the goal of a leader/motivator is to help someone find Positive motivation.

  4. Just LOVED this “kick-butt” post! My model for persistence is my dad…he never gave up and kept at it until he found a solution. Sometimes the solution wasn’t the original one in mind, but it accomplished the job nonetheless. I’ve come to terms with the fact that many people will not have the same dedication or level of persistence that I have, but modeling those values in front of others as a leader and team member can do wonders in motivating others to see what can be done when the chips are down and extraordinary efforts have to be made to keep moving forward. This post made my day!

    • LaRae, What inspiring thoughts. Thank you. Your dad sounds like an amazing man. I love what we can learn about leadership from our parents… and teach by modeling to our children.

  5. Karin, understanding and support are so key! It helps to have someone in your corner. I especially like model obsession… if we can help people adopt an identity of persistence and shape how we view resistance in a positive way it builds passion, not burn-out. I focus most of my energy on shaping mindset. Its not quick, but once the right one takes hold its powerful.

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