Persistence and Hope

Jeff was three years out of college when the Great Recession led to him losing his job. He had received stellar job evaluations, but these didn’t help when his entire division of the company was closed down. Jeff was devastated. He had planned to get married and still had student loans to pay off.

Jeff set about to find a new job, but it seemed like no one was hiring. He only had one interview, and he thought it went well. But the company hadn’t authorized the funding for the position he was seeking. Stacey, the manager he interviewed with, was encouraging but her hands were tied.

Jeff continued to job search during the day, and in the evening he got a job as a bartender. Every Monday Jeff sent Stacey a note inquiring about the job. The notes were his way of keeping in touch and letting her know of his continued interest. Jeff’s girlfriend thought the Monday notes were overkill. “She knows you are interested, you’re just being a pest”, she said. But Jeff didn’t see it that way, so the notes continued.

Three months after his first interview, Jeff got a call from Stacey. It was the job offer he wanted so much. In offering the job, Stacey commented: “Honestly Jeff we had candidates who had more experience and may have been better qualified, but what put you at the top of our list was your persistence. We need someone on this job who will persist on getting results. I never thought your notes were pushy. In fact, the tone you took is exactly the tone we need to ensure we continue to improve.”

There are often two perspectives on persistence. The person who is persisting (Jeff in this case) may see their continued pushing as being a nag of a pest. Many people will give up hope and quit their persistence. The other perspective on persistence is one that sees it as a sign of interest or of commitment. Stacey saw Jeff’s notes as ones of sincere interest in the job.

To be effective, persistence should never be nagging or pestering. It should create a tone of sincere interest or commitment. Persistence should display a sense of hope, not entitlement. Being persistent is challenging to get it right, but little good is ever achieved without sincere persistence.

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“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength, but through persistence.”  – Buddha

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