In our CourageAbility series, we talk about “5 P’s.” After watching the movie “Lincoln,” I’m inspired to talk about two of the 5 P traits which are frequently used in conjunction with one another: passion and persistence.

These two traits are a must for any leader. Your passion comes from deep in your soul and must be identified and not feared. (It can be described as courage.) After seeing the movie, it struck me hard as to how determined and passionate Abraham Lincoln was in his beliefs.

If the movie is an accurate portrayal of his leadership (and I have no reason to assume otherwise) then it clearly demonstrates how his passion is applied with a specific focus and purpose. While many were badly hurt and killed during the Civil War, Lincoln persisted in carrying out actions that had some negative impacts.

His passion and persistence were necessary ingredients to carry an entire nation forward. He did not give up; he was determined to free slaves and put a proclamation into law. While it was unpopular by many for all men, women and children to be free, he chose to take a stand. The movie portrayed how difficult this was, and how significant the risks were. I’ve read several books on Lincoln’s leadership and highly recommend them as a study.

Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
–Calvin Coolidge

In the book, For Your Improvement, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger suggest the following skills are needed in a leader. Please rate yourself in these areas. How would others rate you?

  • Doesn’t hold back anything that needs to be said
  • Provides current, direct, complete, and actionable positive and corrective feedback to others
  • Let’s people know where they stand
  • Faces up to people problems for any person or situation quickly and directly
  • Is not afraid to take negative action when necessary
  • Pursues everything with a need to drive and finish
  • Seldom gives up before finishing, especially in the face of resistance or set-backs
  • Relishes leading
  • Takes unpopular stands
  • Encourages direct and tough debates but is not afraid to end them and move on
  • Is looked to for direction in a crisis
  • Faces adversity head on
  • Is energized by tough challenges

As with any skill, if we overuse them they can be a detriment. We need to develop the ability to know how much to apply and when. Are we a master at this? How can we get better?

My suggestion is to delve into your heart and determine what is meaningful to you and document it. What actions are you willing to take for these beliefs?  Will you give up at the first sign of resistance? What will be unpopular? How will you address the resistance?

At PeopleTek we define leadership as inspiring and empowering others to go where they’ve never gone before and wouldn’t go alone.

Think about passion and persistence. What risks are you willing to take to achieve what’s truly important to you?

As always, your comments and critiques are welcome!