Successful careers are built around three core-values that are highly complementary and together affect our lives in the most profound fashion.
During a recent meeting with one of the entrepreneurial pioneers, Dr. Bob Beyster, the founder of the largest research and engineering company in the US, SAIC, a student asked Dr. Beyster about the most important thing he learned during his career in entrepreneurship. Dr. Beyster is over 85 years old and sat in his wheelchair. He looked straight at a student and responded with only one word: “perseverance.” Everybody was waiting for a more detailed explanation of his answer. After a few seconds, Dr. Beyster said: “A lot of perseverance.” And then he smiled.
I have never seen a more memorable and or clear answer to this very important question. Sometimes, it takes many words to make a point. Sometimes, a few words are better: “A lot of perseverance.” In the language of Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, Dr. Beyster is a “Level 5 leader” – a leader who operates with a genuine humility, but hugely ambitious for the job, and the company!
Mrs. Beyster, a lovely and kind person who was also in that meeting gave examples about what perseverance really meant. “He would not let go,” she said. “I was once shopping with him and I went off go get something and left him just for a few minutes. When I came back he was gone, leaving on his airplane to deal with an urgent problem that could not wait.” She smiled, and so did he, remembering that day. Success requires commitment and perseverance many just don’t have in them.
The first and most important P of entrepreneurial career is perseverance.
There is a second P of success that can be clearly seen in Dr. Beyster’s book, and in so many other stories of great entrepreneurs. It is extremely difficult to have that perseverance if our work is not at the center of our passion. We talked about that previously. Every success-story that is worth talking about has difficult chapters, times of doubt and near-disaster. Performance during these times requires energy almost beyond human limits, and I believe this energy comes from an alignment of our actions with the passions in us. Yes, it’s tough right now – but we are doing something we love, something very much worthwhile.
Jim Collins once said: “The kind of commitment I find among the best performers across virtually every field is a single-minded passion for what they do; an unwavering desire for excellence in the way they think and the way they work. Genuine confidence is what launches you out of bed in the morning, and through your day with a spring in your step.”
There is no entrepreneurial success without passion!
There is a third P of success is patience. We have focused on this previously. True and lasting success takes patience. Only in movies does success happen within one hour! Success takes time – almost always more time than we expect.
There is lots to be said about venture investing, but there are important limitations of fast hits which are at the center of interest of some investors. Dr. Beyster focused on sustained success, paying his people to stay, and making many of his employees millionaires. This was not a “hit and run.” It was a plan, implemented with patience and with a view towards long-time health of his company.
“Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience.” This quote by an unknown author defines what patience really means. It is not about standing by passively, but about the continued courage to keep moving!
Augustine said: “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”
Therefore, the three P’s of entrepreneurial career planning are perseverance, passion and patience!
I very much wish to all of us that we remain focused on our values, our goals and keep creating success! We are not derailed by criticism – we take from it what helps us become better, and ignore the rest. Because we are passionate about what we do and we know that due to our patience and continued perseverance – success is ours!
I want to acknowledge Ross Childs who gave a speech on these three P’s during a recent College of Engineering Alumni Society award ceremony!