On October 29, 1941, as the world reeled from the onslaught of the Nazi regime in Europe and faced a looming threat from Japan, Winston Churchill was asked to speak at Harrow, his old school. Near the end of his two-page speech, Churchill spoke the now famous words:
“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Churchill had experienced many crushing setbacks throughout his life and political career, yet he refused to give up. He was a man of extreme courage and endurance.
When leaders make decisions, seek to expand an organization’s borders, or want to execute an innovative idea or create change, they will encounter opposition and face the great temptation to conform or quit. How can they resist and stand strong? How can they acquire the bulldog will of a Winston Churchill and never give up?
Endurance is the result of two foundational character qualities: courage and perseverance. Both are required of leaders seeking the trust of others.
Adversity and Discouragement
“A man stopped to watch a Little League baseball game. He asked one of the youngsters what the score was. ‘We’re losing 18-0’ was the answer.
‘Well,’ said the man. ‘I must say you don’t look discouraged.’
‘Discouraged?’ the boy said, puzzled. ‘Why should we be discouraged? We haven’t come to bat yet.’ ”
Discouraged? Hardly. The boy was holding strong to the hope that his team could overcome any deficit. He was holding strong to his convictions.
No matter what the source may be, discouragement and adversity have a purpose:
- to deal with our pride
- to get our attention
- to get us to change our behavior
- to prepare us for future service
There are some wrong responses to adversity and discouragement, and they cause bitterness, doubt, depression, and hopelessness. But holding strong produces some right responses:
- We gain our team’s trust because our actions match our intentions.
- We focus on seeing things through rather than abandoning our values or vision.
- We rely on God for the ability to endure.
I want you to build courage and persevere, to realize the sweet taste of standing strong for the long haul. Endurance.