Collage of signature programs and initiatives.

It is an exciting yet challenging moment in the corporate social impact arena. As  practitioners embrace what I’m calling the year of “strategy refresh amid turbulent times,” I have been reflecting on how crucial perseverance is for our field. Perseverance, by definition, is the continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. For some of us this comes naturally, but for others, it is really hard.

I learned how to persevere in my journey as a competitive high school and college tennis player and brought that experience into the social impact field 30 years ago.  Today, I coach my clients to “hang in there,” push through difficult moments, and take it one point at a time – all necessary skills as they face increasing scrutiny, demands, and challenges from internal and external stakeholders.  It can be exhausting.

So how do we persevere?  What does it take? 

It starts with setting and tracking immediate, short-term, and long-term goals.  While it may sound simple, effective goal-setting and progress monitoring are key to help stay on course with intentional focus both, personally and professionally.  Goals also direct and prioritize where to spend our energy, resources, and time to achieve results.  Checking in on how we are doing, understanding if we’ve hit a milestone, and recognizing small and big wins fuels our motivation. The bottom line: do the mental push-ups and craft goals, recognize and acknowledge progress, and make adjustments as needed.  Experiment with journaling regularly to observe and write how it is all going – I know this has worked for me. 

Perseverance is essential when seeking to achieve deep, lasting impact, rather than merely activating short-term, transactional activities that yield only outputs.  Substantive social impact requires sound strategy, of course, but also enormous patience, commitment, and “stick with it-ness” every day.  This is especially true as we collaborate across sectors with players who move at different speeds, face skeptics, and often come upon obstacles in the journey that can deter our course.  Ironically, these speed bumps are what have kept me in the field – just like on the tennis court, I love a good challenge.  I have learned that if I apply my drive and competitive side to pursue the most impactful work possible amidst these obstacles, the results do come.

Perseverance is also about trusting colleagues and community partners, as they each bring their expertise and best practices to help achieve shared goals.  As results are achieved, these collaborations boost our confidence and ability to stay the course. They also educate internal stakeholders that the decisions we are making are sound, and they enable us to achieve robust business and societal goals.  

So, make a conscious effort to include the hard work of perseverance as part of your 2024 training. Just like in tennis, a large portion of our roles is about the mental side of the game – staying grounded, focused, and present.  Reach out to peers for encouragement and great coaches if you are feeling off your game. Always remember, being courageous together make us and our work that much stronger!


    Share This