I’ve had the same lesson show up in my life in three different ways this month. When I hit the third time of anything, I sit up and take notice because that’s when I know the universe is trying to tell me something.
At first, I thought the lesson was about persistence. That when you want something, you must be willing to be relentless about your pursuit of it. I’m being persistent about a few things in my life right now. One area has been my job where I have had to be persistent in my goals for my work. I’ve had to navigate some unexpected challenges and obstacles, drawing on patience and persistence.
Funny enough, another area has been this gorgeous draped wrap I decided to knit for myself. I have knitted for years but this is the largest and most challenging project I have picked. And it has turned out to be a nightmare! It’s been the perfect storm of misinformation (the pattern had errors in it), skill level, yarn purchase, and advice. It takes me hours to knit small sections and I had to rip them out and start over numerous times. I have had to purchase and repurchase yarn to the tune of $200. It is now referred to as the &$#^% shawl — definitely a lesson in persistence. I may be 80 before it’s finished but I am not going to let this project best me!
So I was going along, being persistent in both these things, and not getting the results I wanted. I’d dig deep into my patience and keep going. I was being persistent but hitting the same roadblocks again and again.
That’s when I realized that plain old persistence can only get you so far. That in addition to persistence, you may need to practice preparedness too. Your challenge may require a combination of relentlessness along with small adjustments to your strategy to find ways forward.
This was true at work. Part of my challenge had to do with perception — how people were perceiving what was possible and what I could bring to the table. My initial plan had been persistence only — that I will keep showing up until they see. But it wasn’t getting me very far. Instead of showing up to every meeting the same way, I needed to step back and analyze what else was going on. I realized it was my responsibility to look at the bigger context of politics and power and use that information to shift how I presented myself and how I approached the players.
I took a few days to write down everything I had learned about the individuals involved — their hopes and fears, their triggers, and how they gather power. Then I created a plan that addressed those invisible but powerful forces. This was great, and my insights made a difference in the meetings where I remembered them.
I realized I needed to write the insights and plan down in my project folder so that every time I go into an interaction, I prepare myself by remembering the bigger picture and how it must shape my message.
The same goes for the &$#^% shawl. Every time I went to the knitting store, I would walk away with a new understanding of the problem and how to fix it. But I didn’t keep a log of all those ideas and solutions. So when I would get stuck, I had to go back and recreate them with whomever was available to help. It turns out that every knitter approaches a problem differently so while I was getting great advice, it didn’t align with the previous advice, sending me on a series of detours.
Here, too, I had to step back and review what had happened. I took notes, recreating what had happened, and then made a decision to work with one person, the owner of the store. Together, we started from scratch to figure out where I was and a plan to move forward. I’m happy to say that I have made more progress in this past week than in the past 6 months.
Consider these questions:
- What things are you working on in your life that require persistence?
- Is persistence working or do you need to add preparedness and strategy to your plan?
- And how can you create notes and reminders so that you can retain the insights you have along the way?
I think, like me, you’ll find that practicing prepared persistence can really make a difference in your effectiveness.