Urban dictionary defines “iron will” as “a burning determination that cannot be stopped or hindered by anything; extreme resilience.” After twenty-five years of leading teams, businesses, and global missions there are times (leadership moments) that I believe rest on a “burning determination” to stay the course, drive on, and in the words of Diana Nyad after her historic swim, “never never never give up.” And while Diana was the initial spark to write this blog, I was reminded again of the power of will while watching David Ferrer live at the U.S. Open yesterday. Down two sets to none, he ground his way back winning the next two sets only to lose in the fifth set. What was interesting was all the consistent commentary to follow. It seems that as the number four player in the world, most folks agree that Ferrer’s game and actual tennis skills would not put him in the top twenty five; however, it his true grit determination and ultimately his “iron will” that places him time and again among the top players in the world.
In leadership and in life there are so many attributes and characteristics associated with lives lived meaningfully well, making a difference. I would include “iron will” in my personal top ten. How about you? Do you believe in the power of burning determination?
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Mark, great read…Agree that “iron will” is critical to living to our full potential. When I think about being in my “zone”, the desire to overcome a challenge and the belief in myself are two components in making it happen. “Iron will” for me is a rallying cry to live and lead with purpose!
Chris, I hope you are well. I couldn’t agree more with the need to “believe in yourself”. It’s a price of admission when it comes to leadership and life on purpose. Beliefs (like values) are powerful and show up in our behaviors everyday. Both serve to underpin determination and iron will.
An athlete can certainly relate to the above stories and the application of “iron will” to the requirements of training and competing. It’s an interesting parallel to draw to values and leadership. With so many opportunities to cut corners, game the system, or simply rest on one’s previous success, I see no difference in the mental and emotional strength to, as Mark put it, “stay the course” and live life meaningfully, make a difference, or lead by example. I ponder the differences in the underlying motivations that push one to succeed “on” vs. “off the field”.
Thanks for the compelling comments and questions. Human beings (all of us) are motivated by three things; power, affiliation and achievement. In the case of a leader or an athlete, often times it is the achievement motivation that is pushing us forward.