Persistence Pays Off

Everyone appreciates survival stories, and Tony Vaccaro’s life has been full of them. He endured time with an abusive relative after being orphaned at age five in Italy. Years later as an American GI, Vaccaro survived the Battle of Normandy in WWII, becoming a famous wartime photographer in the process. His most recent accomplishment is becoming a COVID-19 survivor—at age 97! When asked about all of these unbelievable twists of fate, Vaccaro credited determination as well as “ luck and red wine” (you can read more about Tony Vaccaro’s story at

While some people might agree about the benefit of a great Pinot or Cabernet, there is no doubt Tony Vaccaro’s level of persistence has paid the biggest dividends over the decades. Indeed, this singular attribute is common among survivors. Grit keeps them going, no matter what obstacles come their way.

Charles Schwab talks about the powerful role of persistence in a 2020 television commercial.  The octogenarian, reportedly worth about $8.2 billion, explains that despite the ebbs and flows he has experienced in life, persistence has been a determining factor in survival and long-term success.   He believes this important characteristic can help all of us overcome the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis too (check out “Persist” at

At LEADon®, we could not agree more. Over the years, we have seen numerous individuals, teams, and organizations not only survive seasons of extreme difficulty but also go on to thrive when others in their industries did not. The difference? Their level of perseverance and determination. Yet with so many problems presenting themselves after a global pandemic, many of us may feel less persistent and more like Sisyphus, the mythological Greek king who pushed a giant rock ever upward only to have it roll back down again and again.

Thankfully, the LEADon® team has spent decades helping men and women overcome momentous obstacles in their personal and professional lives.  We are confident you and your team can increase your ability to persevere, no matter what challenging circumstances present themselves, in order to become more productive and profitable in the days ahead.  In fact, here are three essential steps we recommend you consider taking:

  1. Strive to attain the final “A” in DABDA: In her 1969 book On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross detailed the stages of grief using the acronym DABDA—Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Anyone dealing with illness, death, loss, or life-changing situations must move through this critical process—and that includes those of us who have lived through the 2020 pandemic.  It is only by grieving our losses, and then reaching the stage where we accept our current reality, that we can make the adjustments needed for future success.
  2. Cast a new vision:  Helen Keller once said that “the only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Part of the current reality includes the fact that life circumstances have altered, so you and your Corporate Family® must adjust accordingly. It is time to create a new vision for the future, and you have the unique opportunity to do this together.  Once that vision for success has been established, you and your team members must develop an action plan (mission) that supports your new vision.
  3. Enlist support:  Tony Vaccaro did not survive the ups and downs that 97 years bring all by himself. And while Charles Schwab’s successful Corporate Family® is certainly a testament to his leadership, countless team members have greatly impacted his level of success. As for Helen Keller, she had an incredible mentor named Anne Sullivan who changed the trajectory of her life. The common thread among these three individuals is that, like all exceptional leaders, their lives included supportive people who encouraged them to persist as they fulfilled personal and professional goals.

2020 has become a year of unprecedented challenges for people around the world, but how each of us chooses to face these circumstances will define our chances for success and future legacy. As historian and author Thomas Carlyle once noted, “Permanence, perseverance, and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities; it is this, that in all things, distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

The team at LEADon® is here to support and encourage your leadership journey.

Please contact us directly at 858.592.0700 with any questions, or check out to review our resources, online courses, and proprietary EQ metric, the Developing Emotional Competency Questionnaire® .