VailValley Voices: Can you be counted upon? |

VailValley Voices: Can you be counted upon?

John Horan-Kates
Vail,, CO, Colorado

In conjunction with the Exploring Potential leadership-development program being run at local high schools, the following essay builds on the principle being discussed in classrooms around the community. For January, that principle is perseverance.

I define perseverance as a state of being emotionally or intellectually bound to a course of action or person. It’s about being committed to something arduous. And it involves keeping your word, regardless of the payback.

Perseverance can be a very powerful word. And the words that are used to define it are also strong words ” bound, committed, arduous. They imply staying with things, staying the course. There is not a lot of wiggle room in these words.

To some, persevering with a commitment is a promise that people can count on. To others, it’s either a loose expression of what they’d like to see happen or a statement that lacks real meaning. These latter kinds of statements might be made when a promise is being sought, but if something better comes along, the deal is off.

Too often our commitments can be shallow, without real intent to follow through. We say “yes” quickly, and then it hits us what that might mean.

One of the shortest speeches of all time was given by Winston Churchill, the former prime minster of Great Britain, to a group of students. He took the stage, looked out at his audience and, with great conviction in his voice, simply said, “Never, never, never give up.”

And that was it. He left the stage. But in that short message was much of Churchill’s philosophy. His inspiration to the British people, perhaps to the whole world, made a huge difference in World War II. He would not be deterred by the odds against him.

Someone later commented that if you never give up, you haven’t lost. On the other hand, if you give up, you can’t possibly prevail.

To understand further what perseverance means, look at what it costs you to maintain your promises: What do you gain, and what do you lose? If you persevere, if you keep your commitments, you reap all kinds of good things ” most importantly, trust. And trust, way more than money, is what makes the world go ’round.

Conversely, if you can’t be counted on, eventually people will stop coming to you. So, answer this question for yourself: How many times do you have to break your promise before people lose trust in you? It may only take one time, but certainly after you let people down two or three times, you’re toast.

And while your words are critical, what you actually do ” or don’t do ” is the real test. Ralph Waldo Emerson described a life perspective when he said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Think about it. One’s whole life could be build on this one simple thought. Do what you say you’ll do. Hold to your commitments. Persevere !

John Horan-Kates is the president of the Vail Leadership Institute in Edwards. He can be reached at 970-926-7800 or

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