Persistence is an attitude that we strongly embrace here at Manawa Networks. I have often been asked by customers and friends where I get my determined attitude to “do whatever it takes to get the job done right”.
For me, it goes back to my father teaching me early on about the value of hard work and money. As early as ten years old, I remember him saying, “Matthew, there’s always work to be done”. I started working with him in his painting business when I was eleven, answering customer service calls, taking messages and going with him on jobs when I was off from school.
I recall one Christmas when my parents bought me a Nintendo with all the bells and whistles. To teach me the value of money and hard work, they said I had to pay half the cost, which meant I needed to earn $150 over the Christmas break. I ended up helping my dad paint a factory during the holiday shutdown. Since I didn’t know how to paint, I was assigned two jobs: setup and cleanup.
Now, the factory was painted in sections so everyone kept busy. First, I would prepare one section with a fellow team member. Second, the paint crew would begin painting that section. Third, I would clean up the previously painted section. Fourth, if cleanup was done, I would be in the sweltering boiler room washing and recycling paint from hundreds of 1-gallon paint cans with freezing cold water. I remember sticking with it, even though I hated every minute. In hindsight, I followed a famous quote from Stephen Covey, “Begin with the End in Mind”, knowing I would eventually finish.
For me, perseverance is really a set of small and big opportunities disguised as challenges that we face every day. We can either choose to learn and persevere or quit.
Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, describes an experiment in the following passage, where Alan Schoenfeld, a math professor at Berkley, watches a video showing of how Renee, a nurse in her mid-twenties solves a math problem playing with a software program designed to teach algebra.
Twenty-two minutes pass from the moment Renee begins playing with the computer program to the moment she says, ‘Ahhhh. That means something now.’ According to the Schoenfeld, “If I put the average eighth grader in the same position as Renee, I’m guessing that after the first few attempts, they would have said, ‘I don’t get it. I need you to explain it.’ Schoenfeld once asked a group of high school students how long they would work on a homework question before they concluded that it was too hard for them to solve. Their answers ranged from thirty seconds to five minutes, with the average answer two minutes.
Schoenfeld goes on to explain that we often think of being good at math as an innate ability. You either have it or you don’t. As he correctly points out, being good at something “is not so much ability as it is attitude.” Like many things, you master mathematics if you’re willing to try. That’s what Schoenfeld attempts to teach his students. “Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard for twenty-two minutes to make sense of something that most people would give up on after thirty seconds.”
As the photo below demonstrates, persistence is not about talent, education or genius. Great service companies and their people continuously push forward and press onwards to be their very best.
When I agreed to pay my parents half the money for my Nintendo, I knew I had to do my part to finish the factory job. In the same way, our Associates maintain an attitude to go the extra mile until the job is done and our customers are fully satisfied.
Photos from here, here and here.