How long should you persist at something you feel like you’re failing in? How long is too long that it becomes wasted energy? And what timeframe is too short that you’re effectively giving up too soon?
So when should we persist and when should we give up?
I have a plant at my front door. When I planted it, it looked great. After a small amount of time, the plant started to look like a grey stick. This wasn’t a case of seasonal change and the plant should go dormant. No this plant was struggling. Rather than being a reflection of a healthy green lush plant it looked like a couple of twigs with a few token leaves. I have no idea why I didn’t just rip it out and replace it but I continued to water it. When I went overseas earlier this year I had my neighbour attend to the twig. Very kindly they also persisted in watering. I’m sure they thought I was mad. When I came home, sadly it was still twig like. But again, something in me kept persisting. Wasted time one might think.
Do you have any ‘twigs’ that you are persisting with? Things that are looking rather lifeless but are still just hanging in there?
It’s a fine line to walk in business. We can often feel like the life has been sucked from our career or business and that we’re basically flogging a dead horse. Or we may be trying something new. A new way to communicate, a new approach to leadership, a new sales campaign and we’re not getting the results that we want and need in our expected timeframe. It can be deflating and it can also be easy to give up and return to the drawing board. It’s not a nice feeling but something I think we all experience now and again.
I think in order to answer our question about whether to persist or not we have to ask ourselves some exploratory questions.
- Have you done everything you can in order to create success?
- Have you been consistent in doing what you need to do or has it been a more haphazard approach?
- Did you take your eye off the prize and become distracted by other bright, shiny objects that looked a little more fun?
- Was it the right strategy in the first place?
- Have you considered all the options?
- Have you asked for help or feedback?
Sometimes it’s not the goal that’s the problem. It’s the execution of all the activities you need to do to achieve the goal.
Some exciting news on the twig front! It has flourished into something that now resembles a healthy plant and is even sprouting some flowers. A very proud accomplishment of mine. Yes sometimes I am very easily pleased but I always thought my twig was capable of so much more if I just invested the time and energy into watering it consistently.
On reflection, the reason I grew a twig rather than a flourishing plant was because I was not watering it consistently. A simple act but I neglected to do it. I could’ve ripped it out and started again but I’m guessing I’d get the same result. I had to get into the habit of watering my twig to give it the resource it needed to make it grow and flourish. I also had to change my mindset.
Could this be the same for you and can you save your twig in time?