Military training on boat displaying stick-to-itiveness.


Sister Claudia was my high school calculus teacher. She was passionate about the subject matter and did her best to transfer what was in her brain to the young brains of the classroom. She would use pieces of colored lucite that then intercepted clear lucite models in various shapes to visually display the concepts of calculus. I did not share Sister Claudia’s passion, and my mind was not properly open to receive what she suggested was invaluable information for success in calculus. Functions, derivatives, letters taking the place of numbers – it made my mind numb. Have I mentioned I don’t care for calculus? Sister Claudia insisted that to understand calculus, one “requires a certain stick-to-itiveness.” I recall thinking, “come on, that’s not even a real word.” She would go on to explain that one must have dogged perseverance to work through the problem. Once such breakthroughs were made for a type of problem, you would then know how to apply the calculus concept in the future.

Calculus was my nemesis because I did not embrace the concept of stick-to-itiveness at that early age. Throughout my military career, I learned how to persevere. Anyone who has served in the military understands the value of preparation that begins with training at several levels. Individual training, group training, and then integrated training all build on each other. At the highest levels, joint integrated training takes across services and even with other nations.

Planning follows the training. When individuals, units, and groups understand their roles, plans can guide how an event or concept will unfold. Rehearsal through repetition with honest critique and review along the way strengthens the individuals, units, and groups. Most importantly, the trials can validate the plan. There is a well-worn phrase in the military that “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Translated, that means the enemy may do something for which you didn’t plan. However, the training and planning you completed can allow you to adapt to the unexpected much more quickly.

Rehearsal through repetition with honest critique and review along the way strengthens the individuals, units, and groups. Click To Tweet

Look at the team around you or the unit you are leading through the federal sale. Can you see the parallels above? Do the members of the team have a common understanding of each other’s roles and expected contribution? Do your rehearsals in the form of red hats, white hats, black hats, pink hats, etc., really challenge your team? Do you critique and provide feedback along the way?

It turns out Sister Claudia knew a thing or two. Stick-to-itiveness is the ability to persevere. She understood its importance in calculus, but likely was doing her part to convey the lifelong meaning. Stick-to-itiveness is the embodiment of dogged persistence. The winners in the federal space apply this concept from top-to-bottom and end-to-end. You may already embrace this mindset. If so, great! If not, take a step back and evaluate your process, your team, and each individual. Are the right things in motion for them to persevere? Only you can answer this.

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