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Opinion: Lessons in persistence – building a team from zero to one

Abhinay Bhasin of ProfitWheel talks about how persistence is one of the most important traits for entrepreneurs to achieve growth and shares key principles that kept him going.

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~Michael Jordan

A famous quote from one of the greatest athletes of our time lends inspiration to the fact that persistence is key to succeeding.

When I started out co-building a data sciences unit in an advertising agency, a unit that didn’t exist – Day01 was not one with clarity. Quite frankly, we perhaps didn’t know what we were setting out to build.

What kept us closely grounded were 2 things: 

1. Our will to keep trying and experimenting 

2. The thought that we knew whatever we would set our hearts to, we would succeed or learn from the process.

One of the core thoughts that kept us going (and does to date) is persistence.

Persistence is one of the most important traits for achieving growth and driving one through a journey of self-discovery.

It’s a driving force that keeps us on our path of learning, enabling us to overcome obstacles and setbacks and to keep moving forward in pursuit of our goals.

One of my key learnings here is that this isn’t one that comes easy or is easy to do. It requires a certain ability of doggedness.

Imagine the idea of dabbling into technology and products which is alien to a services industry, in a fairly new field; establishing a practice of charging for value through technology in an era where this was almost expected at no cost.

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I found persistence often requires hard work, determination, and the ability to bounce back from failure. To find the light at the end of a tunnel when perhaps there wasn’t one but to build with the vision of your own heart and soul.

In my learnings from dealing with growth through persistence, here are 5 key principles that kept me going:

Lesson 1: Set Realistic Goals

A key lesson in persistence is to recalibrate and establish a realistic baseline. Setting a goal or ambition that is unrealistic or too much of a stretch could easily dissuade you or be a source of discouragement (especially when things are tough and unpredictable). It’s important to set goals that are challenging, but also achievable. This allows us to make progress and build momentum over time.

Lesson 2: Fail Fast. Learn Fast.

Embracing failure is a key essence of persistence. The key learning though is to build resiliency through a process of trying several things and learning from them. An important lesson that remains is embracing failures and building on learnings. Roadblocks are often navigate-able, the learning is in finding ways to move around them or working with them without losing heart or fervor when you encounter a challenge. Failure is a natural part of the learning process, using it as a learning opportunity builds resilience and growth.

Lesson 3: Stay Focused

There’s often a lure of being distracted while building a product, team, or mission. Several obstacles or thoughts can emerge based on stakeholder meetings, dynamic environments, etc. There are just far too many problems to solve and several avenues to get there.

One of the key aspects of building persistence is to innovate each day but iterate every quarter. Take your time to think of a path and analyze all options, but once you do, commit to it for at least a quarter.

It’s important to stay focused on one’s goals and to avoid getting distracted by other things. This requires discipline and the ability to prioritize our time and energy. By staying focused on our goals, we can make steady progress and stay motivated even when the going gets tough.

Lesson 4: Be Adaptable

The Darwinian Approach lends to the concept that it is indeed not the strongest or fittest that survives, but one who is most adaptable.

When you’re thinking of blue ocean, and building in a dynamic environment, you’ve got to adapt to what customers want. Build for utility, not for glamour.

This requires a certain degree of flexibility and openness to new ideas and being open to feedback.

Persistence requires constant recalibration.

Lesson 5: Celebrate Small Victories

Be it a good call. A client signing on to your first paid pilot. Your first case study. Your first pitch went well. Your first large contract was signed.

Celebrate all of it! Wholeheartedly, alone and with your team!

Celebrating the small milestones helps maintain morale and momentum keeping you grounded and on your mission.

With persistence, even the impossible is often achievable. As Jobs famously said, Stay Hungry Stay Foolish!

The article is penned by Abhinay Bhasin, Head of Product Marketing at ProfitWheel.

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication

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