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The Ultimate Guide to Being Persistent


Change doesn't happen overnight in large organisations. Change doesn't happen by accident. You need strategy, you need planning and you need a great team to make change happen. Because of that, if you're the changemaker, you need to be persistent.

We’ve noticed a lot of sustainability people have flat foreheads from banging their head against a wall. Now, this might be a technique we don't know about for having persistence, but we suspect not...

In the following article, we are going to give you the lowdown on how to maintain persistence and how to not get bogged down when you stop making progress.


Important to know: There are different types of persistence

One type of persistence is when you want to launch a project, but it ‘isn’t the right time’. That might be because the ‘planets aren’t aligning’, some people aren’t ready, or your department hasn’t got it together. This form of persistence is shown in the form of patience, waiting for the right time to strike and get the project off the ground. Just because you are ready, doesn’t mean everyone else is.


We spoke last year to Dr Peter Rands from the Canterbury Christchurch University at the EAUC Conference. Peter had been considering Warp It for around four years, and we would get in touch and he’d say ‘I’m not quite ready, no, not yet’. He needed the right timing, the right people, the right motivations and all at once. Peter was very keen to implement Warp It, but his sage advice was that just because something might not happen straight away, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. You’ve got to wait for everyone else’s objectives and desires to align, and then you strike. Peter was persistent in his approach, and was happy to wait until the opportunity was ideal.


When is the right time to push?

Be persistent and consistent in your communications and ensure that you have an understanding of the main stakeholders, workflows, strategies and priorities. Get out your telescope and see when the planets are ‘going to align’, better yet, talk to people and get a feeling of when it’s coming for yourself. Keep up to date with all of the strategic objectives and see where they overlay with your own, often your best time to strike is right after the deadline of another project.


Persistence when motivation drops

A much harder type of persistence is to remain strong and valiant even when you may be staring defeat in the face. To be a bit less dramatic, perhaps you’ve launched a project, it all went well initially, you were the hero for a while, and now the honeymoon is over and the project is starting to lose energy. Uh oh. This is where you show your mettle and prove you are a persistent person!


You are the project lead, so you need to:

  • See the bigger picture and remind yourself why you’re doing this project!
  • Visualise the thing you want to change or the benefit you want to bring
  • Don’t get hung up on all the whys and why nots, just push forward logically
  • Record all your small victories and use them as motivation. Guide here.


Conserve your energy

Know when to fight your battles, and when to let your battles fight you. Or as George Carlin says...


"Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things".

Don’t expend your energy on everything, save it for the important things. Don’t quip and quarrel about tiny, unimportant matters, when there’s a giant problem staring you in the face! If you waste energy, you won’t have enough when the big things come along, when you really need the persistence to slog through. If it’s small, let it go, leave it for a better time. Prioritise your energy expenditure.


Sound things out with a supporter

You need to let off steam, you can’t pent it all up, or you will explode and your project will implode! You need a sounding board, which could be a team member, a colleague, your manager or ever a supportive family member. Your manager is preferred, as your spouse or children might not really be able to help you! You need someone who will listen and add expert insight that you can act upon. You can be a lot more persistent when you aren’t full of stress and steam. Vent!


Delegate, delegate, delegate

The secret to management and business is spreading out the work to the people who are best qualified and can give you the best results. It makes sense right? So delegate your work to your team, to the people you feel can do things most proficiently, and keep the things you can do the best for yourself. Play to your strengths. If you’re bad at spreadsheets, build rapport and onboard someone who is great at spreadsheets! Offer to do something in exchange with them, and if you do it well, you’ll earn their trust. Maybe you can put in a good word about their performances with their line manager and earn them some praise or a push towards promotion. Delegating the tasks you struggle with will keep you persistent in your mission!


How do you eat an elephant?

We actually put together a whole blog post just on the answer to this, so we won’t spoil the answer here, instead, pique your interest there's a little story below...


Tiny parts of a big target

Daniel O’Connor, Warp It’s founder, adds this anecdote to this blog about persistence:

“I got this tip from my brother who does ultra runs, where he'll run 270 miles through a mountain range over five days, and only have three hours sleep a night. I asked him, "How can you do this? It's just absolutely beyond my comprehension." He said, "The physical limitations are all in your mind. Anybody can do this. I'm just really good at breaking down a massive goal into tiny bits, and just focusing on the next little goal. When I add those hundreds of little goals up together, that's when I hit my big target." That rings true with maintaining persistence.”


Has this article helped?

Read this other article about persistence, and remember to download our FREE 10 tips on keeping persistence when facing objections to your project!

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Joseph Kennedy

Joseph Kennedy

My journey is education, communication and innovation. My destination is a world free from environmental collapse, ecological ruin and unbreathable air.


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