Wayne Gretzky will go down as one the best players to compete in the National Hockey League (NHL). In a career that spanned over 20 years, he scored 894 goals and is credited with 1,963 assists. These two statistics are current record holders within the sport.
What strikes me as even more interesting than his numbers on a stats sheet is what he is quoted to have said at one point in time during his career:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” -Wayne Gretzky
In reflecting on this quote, it makes the reader aware that Mr. Gretzky did not reach Hall of Fame status by being complacent. He didn’t shatter records because he skated where the puck was, but rather to where the puck was going to be. Dubbed ‘The Great One’, Wayne reached elite status because he was pretty damn persistent.
By nature, I can’t think of a single individual that doesn’t possess a bit of competitiveness – a drive to want to outperform others and excel in something they do. Whether it is enjoying the process of working to accomplish a task, or the reward you feel after completion, there is a motivating force behind everything you do.
In working towards a goal, it is understood that there is a often a time frame associated with it. Meaning, there are controllable forces that we can play to our advantage and adjust as needed to ensure the result we want. On the other end of the spectrum, how do we best arrive at our final destination when extraneous factors are out of our reach?
So you’re training for a marathon and trip and fall during a training run and experience a sprained ankle. How do you rebound? You are persistent with rehabilitation procedures, taking preventive measures, and gradually work your way back into training. In other words, you are persistent in doing all the right things.
Professionally, you are having difficulty breaking into an account. How do you finally make penetration? Continue to call and ask questions, utilize your resources and network, and always focus on building a ‘win-win’ relationship. Again, you must be persistent in doing all the right things.
Personal and Professional Examples
I think back to my first couple of half marathons. The day after finishing the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon, with another race only a month away, I thought I was doing the right thing by being persistent in my training, and thus running 8 miles… on a treadmill. I had the inclination that I needed to push through with more training without a recovery period.
Within a day or two, I developed shin splints and could barely make it a few minutes on my feet before climbing on a bike. Eventually I listened to my body, reverted to non weight-bearing cardio and took care of my body. I became persistent in doing the right things, and it allowed me to complete the next race and actually perform better than the previous.
Just recently, I was on a sales call with a good size company. In our conversation, the gentleman we were speaking with discussed the importance of being persistent. He has been in purchasing for a number of years and one story stuck out in his mind. The gentleman told us that one particular vendor had called on him for four years without successfully making a sale. After four years, the vendor finally won. But, this was not just any sale, it amounted to a quantity of +4 billion of a specific product. “It made his year, and his career.”
Finding the Balance between Patience and Persistence
It is not always an easy task when working towards something, and it can be discouraging and overwhelming. Uncertain as to what the next step should be or why things aren’t progressing as you would like. With one brash decision you can find yourself on the road to no where, or in a hole deeper than the one you started.
You need the ability to recognize when too much is too much and why you don’t need to make a call every hour on the hour to the same person. You need to have an understanding of how far to the extreme to push your body before it needs time to recover. Being persistent does not mean taking every action imaginable until you sink or swim. Although, keep in mind, persistence does require you to continue to re-evaluate, re-assess and determine what are the right things to be doing.
I can’t stress the importance of doing what is right. In this approach, it will naturally allow you to become patient and make rational decisions. It helps keep an open mind that is able to adapt to any given situation. With an open mind, never lose sight of your end goal and understand that it might require baby steps in getting there.
What does this mean for you?
To win with persistence, and reach your goals, continue to do what is right. Understand there is a process associated with achieving your end result, and that it could take weeks, months and sometimes years.
Do the things that have to be done without any excuses or exceptions. Wake up every morning at 4:30AM to train for your next race. Make regular phone calls to accounts that are going to need to develop over an extended period of time.
With each step you take, do so with intentionality and purpose. Your persistence will pay dividends, and allow you to win, but know that it is going to require you to work your tail off. There is an old adage, “How do you begin the journey of a thousand miles? With a single step.”
Begin to step. Start being persistent. Win Results. Because after all, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
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