Endurance instantly brings to mind visions of long-distance running. It requires strength, longevity and mental toughness. In a race, endurance is a winning characteristic when durability and consistency are most valued. Similarly, in an organization, endurance is a critical attribute involving steady and unwavering progress. An explosive sprint, just like corporate hyper-growth, devalues endurance. However, endurance succeeds when the objective demands a long-term perspective and ongoing high performance.
Whether describing a foot race or the rat race, endurance results from proper conditioning and preparation. Longevity is not an accident. It requires focus and concentration. Too often races emphasize speed. But, superior performance is not limited to short increments. The 100 meter dash world record holder is often called the fastest man in the world. Business accolades are routinely awarded to the fastest growing enterprise in a given year. However marathon runners earn medals, also. Steady, sustained profitability wins corporations favor with bankers and stock analysts. The reward for that prize is often more capital! Endurance may not benefit from flashy headlines or gaudy titles. But make no mistake, winners who emphasize endurance and resultant long-term excellence also receive their rewards.
Culturally, Americans are enamored with immediate gratification. The corporate landscape is littered with high-flying stars who delivered dazzling results only to crash in an equally spectacular fashion. Careers flourish when professionals consistently earn victories that reflect long-term value. Furthermore, organizations can withstand crash and burn executives as long as the organization reclaims an emphasis on continued wealth creation. Long-term, high performance is the essential, enduring characteristic of winners.
Interestingly, children’s early lessons regarding endurance is the fable of the tortoise and the hare. The story features a consistent and focused tortoise defeating an arrogant and undisciplined hare in a race. The moral is slow and steady wins the race. In today’s environment a better story is the proverb of the gazelle and the lion . “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
In this scenario endurance does not lead to simply surviving the day; that is the short-term. Endurance represents the preparation, mental toughness and consistency to perform to the best of your natural ability every day as a matter of survival.