The great companies and leaders of the next decade will be those who are willing to endure.
This past Saturday at 6am, I joined a small group of friends to do the Chad 1000X – one thousand box step-ups performed while wearing a weighted backpack. The Chad 1000X honors the memory of Chad Wilkinson, a Navy Seal who took his life in 2018, and was started to bring awareness to the impact on our veterans of PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
The workout took us a little over an hour to complete. During most of the time, I kept my mind focused on the sacrifices of the many men and women who have served our country. And when I began to question my ability to keep going, I told myself that very few good things in life happen without some hardship. I was reminded that the ability to endure in the face of challenging circumstances, more than anything else, matters most.
In the world of business building, endurance may be the single most important quality. The word endure is defined as: to suffer (something painful or difficult) patiently; to remain in existence, last. It is derived from the Latin word indurare, from in – ‘in’ + durus ‘hard.’ The companies and leaders who are willing to endure – to suffer patiently in service of building businesses that last – will succeed. Those who succumb to the siren call of unnatural rates of growth and lack the patience to lay the foundations for sustained growth over time will fail. Just this past week, we saw FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange that was recently valued at $32 billion, implode without warning along with its once-heralded billionaire founder Sam Bankman Fried. My sense is that there will be more of these types of systemic failures. The laws of nature, which apply to companies and individuals alike, don’t bend to the will of those seeking a shortcut.
In the year ahead, smart capital will flow to those companies that are willing to do the hard, step-by-step work of building a business over time. This will require leaders who are willing to play the long game. Those who are willing to suffer patiently. One step. Then the next. Then the next. In the words of the Scottish essayist and philosopher Thomas Carlyle, “endurance is patience concentrated.” The great companies and leaders of the next decade will be those who are willing to endure.
Thomas Friedman’s recent New York Times opinion piece, “How China Lost America,” is particularly good.
I love The Marginalian, a weekly newsletter written by Maria Popova. Her recent post summarizes sixteen life lessons, one for each of the sixteen years she’s been writing the newsletter. It’s a wonderful read and an even better guide for living a good life.
I finally watched 38 At The Garden on HBO, the short documentary of the rise of Jeremy Lin and his extraordinary first NBA season with the New York Knicks in 2012. It’s amazing.