Susanna Wesley was a remarkable woman. Giving birth to nineteen children in the span of twenty years was no small feat. Especially considering nine of the children did not make it past infancy.
The patience of the woman is legendary. Once when teaching one of her kids a particular lesson, her husband Samuel overheard and counted her repeating the same information twenty times.
“I wonder at your patience,” he encouraged her. “You have told that child twenty times the same thing.”
Susanna, with a grin on her face, replied to her husband, “If I had satisfied myself by mentioning it only nineteen times I should have lost all my labour. It was the twentieth time that crowned it.”
There is a reason Susanna raised such legendary leaders as John and Charles, the founders of the Methodist Church. She understood the importance of persistence.
Susanna also embraced her opportunity to influence the next generation of leaders. Once while her husband was away from home, she wrote to him . . . “I am a woman, but I am also the mistress of a large family. And though the superior charge of the souls contained in it lies upon you, yet in your long absence I cannot but look upon every soul you leave under my charge as a talent committed to me under a trust. I am not a man nor a minister, yet as a mother and a mistress I felt I ought to do more than I had yet done. I resolved to begin with my own children; in which I observe the following method: I take such a proportion of time as I can spare every night to discourse with each child apart. On Monday I talk with Molly, on Tuesday with Hetty, Wednesday with Nancy, Thursday with Jacky, Friday with Patty, Saturday with Charles.”
Every leader could learn a couple of things from Susanna.
First – Finish the job. Greatness, no matter the arena, seems to be more a matter of practice than it does a matter of talent. Repetition is the key to rising through the ranks yourself, or leading someone else to do so.
Second – Be consistent in the way you connect with your team members. For Susanna, it was with her children. For you it might be with your direct reports. Whether your leadership is exercised at work or at home, recognize the greatness in those you have been entrusted to lead and approach them with love and humility.
The dictionary defines persistence as, “Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” In other words, don’t expect persistent influence to be easy.
Is there someone who needs to be reminded one more time? If you have given up, you should reconsider. One more time . . . one more connection . . . might “crown it” to use Susanna’s words. And imagine an environment where you saw, “Every soul under your charge as a talent committed to you under a trust.”
See others that way and lead with persistence, and your influence will go to another level.
What role do you think persistence plays in the effectiveness of a leader?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.