Tenacity

stairs-918735_1920There is often a narrow range in which success can be achieved. One element I have found that helps to get into that bandwidth is tenacity. Tenacity is, for me, one of the most important qualities when it comes to getting a job done. In the context of business, tenacity is about being creative and finding unique paths to solutions and success; all while maintaining professional ethics. I have always felt tenacity was one of my strong attributes, and it regularly pays off in my work. When I started to think about it, there are several aspects of tenacity I feel encompass putting the idea into practice.

  • Understanding Tenacity: Tenacity is about using creativity to find new ways to get the job done or achieve your goal, no matter the obstacles that have been put in front of you; all while upholding the truest ideals of professionalism. This is where it is important to understand the difference between tenacity being persistent. Seth Godin has a great blog about the difference with persistence meaning doing the same thing over and over.
  • Prepare Yourself: In order for me to be tenacious within the world of business development, it means being organized. I am constantly doing research and reaching out to people across multiple industries to gather the data I need. To accomplish this, I have a system that works for me – an Excel file that tracks who I have contacted and when, a Word document that catalogues phone call notes, and digital calendar alerts to remind me to follow-up with those who I haven’t heard back from. Even if one element falls short, a review of the others shows where I have missed something.
  • Thinking It Through: Being tenacious and not persistent, as I stated above, means doing things differently. So it is important to think about how you would want something to happen. As an example, I will always send a follow-up email because when I receive a personalized email that basically says I am trying you for the second time because you haven’t responded to my first attempt, it makes me feel like I have let someone down or did not take the time to follow-up. This one practice often results in a greater response than the original message. That really makes a huge different when trying to get information from someone. Thinking it through in advance helps get to the end result.

Being tenacious is an art form that requires skills on multiple levels. The most important part is the mindset that success is a matter of time and effort, and not letting longer periods of failure deter you from remaining motivated.

My challenge is for you to think about the last item you let go at work and spend a few minutes developing ideas that could move it forward in a successful direction. Please let me know if you were able to turn it around!

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Arte Nathan – Takeaways From a Killer Keynote

ArteI recently attended an awards banquet for the Nevada College of Business and the keynote speaker was Arte Nathan, Executive Director of Professional and Leadership Studies at UNLV. He was also the Chief Human Resources Officer at Wynn Resorts for over 20 years. After stating that he wasn’t going to read his original speech, Mr. Nathan began reviewing his professional journey and shared words of wisdom to the soon to be business graduates. Below are some of his quotes and my thoughts about each.

Resumes:

“You think we spend more than a minute looking at your resume?”

It is sad, but true. With the state of human resources today, there are too many resumes for too few jobs and there just isn’t time to effectively look at them all.

“The top line that says objective is what they look at. You’re supposed to know what your objective is.”

While I agree that having an objective is important on a resume, the idea here that struck me was being able to state your objective in the first place. I have had to state my own objectives, as most everyone has, and understood that having an objective doesn’t mean knowing exactly how you will get there. It is about having the goal and working to reach it.

“GPA doesn’t matter. You graduated. That’s what matters.”

For the most part, I agree with this statement. It is difficult to say that a GPA from one school is an accurate measure to compare against someone from another institution. This is not necessarily about the quality of the education, but the simple fact that the two systems are likely not the exact same.

“Your internship and attendance at the London School of Something or Other doesn’t matter. What matters is what you did when you weren’t studying. Those involved were holding offices and still graduated. They are multifaceted.”

While I don’t agree that internships and your institution don’t matter (and I don’t think Mr. Nathan does either based on his other comments), I do agree that what you do outside of the classroom can be more important than what you do in it. The reason for this is the application of what you have learned and the ability to build experience.

Life Advice – for Business:

“If you have a can-do attitude, you will go far.”

Attitude is one of the only aspects in our lives where everyone is on an equal playing field. By feeling and living the belief that you can get the job done shows confidence, and implementing that attitude will show your dependability and skills.

“If you never fail, you will never learn.”

While I don’t believe anyone sets out looking to fail, I do believe that if you haven’t failed, then you haven’t tried enough. Additionally, without failing, you will likely be ill-equipped do effectively respond when that inevitable time does comes.

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It was reassuring to hear the words of Mr. Nathan as I share many of his beliefs and he has led a highly successful career. The three key elements I took away from his keynote were to know your objective, put your best foot forward and always be ready to learn.

Now, take a look at your own resume. Do you feel it puts your best foot forward? If not, make changes, ask others for their thoughts, get advice. For most of us, a resume is the first impression, so it is worth taking the time to make it count.

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Failure – Just the Beginning

Throughout my life, I have learned from both my successes and failures; I state it right on the homepage. So, I can’t simply talk about success. As a normal function of taking classes, tests are given to measure your understanding and comprehension of the material covered. I am studious and have been rewarded for my efforts with high marks. However, I do not have an unblemished record. This week has been an example of that.

I took an exam in one of my classes and felt really good walking in the door. I had thoroughly covered the material and felt confident. During the exam, I was constantly checking the clock to make sure I had enough time to finish. I attacked the low hanging fruit first and then the ones taking more consideration. Afterwards, I walked out the door as confidently as a I had walked in.

The test was returned and I was surprised to see a portion of instructions encircled in red. One word stood out among all the rest – handwriting. My heart sank and the wind immediately left my sails. My knowledge and understanding of the content was no longer the issue. Embarrassed, I knew I had failed at something that should have been a non-issue; something learned in elementary school.

words-416435_1280Rather than letting this failure get me down and affect my motivation, I am ready to learn and move on. Obviously, this has a simple solution – take more time writing my responses on the next exam. Beyond that, I asked myself how can I use this example to help prepare myself for larger failures that may, and likely will, come? Below are my 7 steps on how to effectively react to failures to do better in the future.

  1. Accept the failure: It happened, now take a moment to get out the frustration and clear your mind.
  2. Done yet? Double check to make sure there is no lingering negativity floating around.
  3. Analyze: What happened? What were the circumstances leading to the failure?
  4. Internal Review: How could I have avoided this? What was my internal systemic issue that allowed this to happen?
  5. External Review : Without blaming, were there any external factors that could repeat, which I must consider for the future?
  6. Fix it: Compile your thoughts and make real decisions that will help you avoid making the same mistake again.
  7. Consider it a lesson learned: Once you have found the fix, find a way to remind yourself before the next time it could come up. If you don’t prepare adequately, you are bound to repeat.

Now, I am thinking about this as a reaction to a single test in a class, which is not something that will have a huge impact on my final grade (hopefully), my graduation, my career or my life. However, this same process to analyze and react appropriately should be used equally in your personal life and in business. Failure can be a good thing as long as you react in a manner that turns it into a learning experience; rather than the beginning of the end. Failures should be looked at as the opportunity for a new beginning.

After taking a moment to think about it, what are the best things you have taken away – learned – as a result of a failure? Please let me know in a comment below.

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