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Flexible Persistence

by David Brock on June 23rd, 2022

Reading an outstanding article by Reid Hoffman, False Choices, one term leaped out to me—flexible persistence. It’s such an important and powerful concept.

As sellers and managers we get, possibly to a fault, the concept of persistence. We know that success is based on constant and consistent execution of our strategies. We know we will face challenges and resistance–from our people and customers, but that we can’t give up. We know we won’t succeed by doing things randomly, but we must have a structured disciplined approach, that we execute every day, every week, every quarter.

We develop our go to customer strategies, we develop our engagement processes, our selling processes. We develop our scripts, cadences, and execute them constantly.

And that persistence is important, serving us–until it doesn’t.

At some point it breaks down. The things that used to work, don’t work quite as well. But we persist, doing those things because that’s the way we’ve always done them. We persist by doubling down, doing these things with greater intensity, greater volume, and greater velocity.

And we persist in doing things that, increasingly, don’t work.

Mistakenly, too often when we recognize this, it’s too late, or we abandon everything, flailing out randomly, trying to recover.

When one contrasts this with consistent high performers, a common quality leaps out, flexible persistence. High performers never act randomly. They are actually extremely disciplined and structured. They leverage processes and tools that consistently work and produce results.

They are persistent in their execution of these, yet at the same time they do it with flexibility or adaptability. They recognize situations and contexts differ, and they must adjust what they do to accommodate those differences. They recognize no script can handle everything, instead having a consistent set of dialogs that have been adjusted to maximize meaning and engagement.

Likewise, leaders recognize persistence in the focus, priorities, strategies is critical to driving growth. But they also recognize that blind persistence is dangerous. They constantly assess what’s working and what’s not, being flexible in shifting directions, shifting strategies and methods to more effectively produce the results needed.

Persistence is important, flexible persistence enables us to adapt and change based on shifts in our customers, markets, competition.

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