Much is written about the need to “persevere” in just about any kind of pursuit, but I believe this is especially true when it comes to leadership.
When you are in a place of influence of others and obstacles continue to block your path for a long period of time, people begin to wonder if anything is going to happen, if someone’s going to break the stalemate, if the obstacles will ever be overcome. That’s what leaders are known to do. They make things happen when it appears that it’s not going to be so.
Last evening, 3-12-13, the Pittsburgh Penguins played 53 minutes of scoreless hockey and were being written off by the national sports casters as not having their game in gear that night as they were about to be shut-out by the Boston Bruins. With less than seven minutes left, winger Chris Kunitz made a goal which cut the lead to 2-1. Remember, the Penguins had not scored in the first 53 minutes and were still 1 goal behind. All Boston had to do was continue to keep the puck in the Penguins end of the ice for the remaining 6+ minutes and the game would be over.
However, Kunitz’ goal seemed to light a fire under the rest of the Penguin team. Just a couple of minutes later, Brian Sutter scored his first goal in several games bringing the Penguins to an unlikely tie, despite the long drought in the game. It was clear the momentum had shifted. Many fans had already left the building and a number of the sports casters were trying to figure out what they could say to retract their obituaries of the Penguins. Then, the final blow came with two minutes remaining; Sutter hit yet another goal off of a stolen puck in the Boston Bruins end of the rink. After 53 minutes of a scoring drought, the Penguins scored three goals in less than seven minutes. The perseverance to play tough, to stay in the game mentally and to believe that “it wasn’t over ’till it was over” made for one of the most exciting comeback victories that I’ve witnessed in a long time and certainly one of the highlights of this hockey season.
Chris Kunitz is the second-highest scoring leader in the National Hockey League and he did what leaders do. When everyone else was writing off the Penguins, he stepped up and led the way, persevering in a fashion that inspired the rest of the team to play at a higher level and thus win the game.
Perseverance doesn’t come easy and requires a level of confidence, patience and, dare I say, faith that things will turn around if you continue to believe that they will.
That’s the competitive edge that every leader needs and every leader can have; as they learn perseverance in small things, it will grow into perseverance in the major tests that come along in every leader’s life.