Perseverance In Business: A Reason For Thankfulness

First-Thanksgiving-at-Plymouth-by-BrownscombieAs Americans prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, many reflect back on the “First Thanksgiving” celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. The stories of those that crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower are filled with tragedy and endurance in the harsh New World.

One thing all survivors had in common was the value of perseverance.

Perseverance = persistent determination to adhere to a plan of direction.

Seeking religious freedom, the Pilgrims had laid out a course to establish a new colony in North America. And in spite of the hardships and setbacks, they did indeed succeed.

The Pilgrims were the original “startup”.

Today, this same spirit of perseverance lives on in many American businesses. Just ask any successful entrepreneur and they’ll tell you it’s an integral ingredient to survive and grow.

But what happens once a company becomes really big? Does the need for perseverance disappear?

A few think it’s still important.

Big Persevering Companies

Here’s a look at four companies on the Fortune 500 list that include Perseverance as a core value, and how they define it.

  1. CenturyLink: Perseverance – We will:
    - Carry out our Vision in a manner consistent with our Unifying Principles in spite of obstacles.
    - Be creative and innovative as we face challenges and respond to opportunities.
    - Be flexible and embrace change.
    - Not give up.
  1. Delta Air Lines: PerseveranceTry harder than all our competitors.
  2. Tenneco: PerseveranceResolute and unyielding; the unrelenting pursuit of goals.
  3. Western Digital: PerseveranceWe pursue our work with energy, drive and a need to win.
    - We never give up, especially in the face of resistance or overwhelming odds.
    - We take charge.
    - We push hard.
    - We stand strong.

All of these companies have lived through some challenging – and changing – times.

  • In 1930, CenturyLink started as a small telephone company in Louisiana, with 75 subscribers. After many, many acquisitions – and a few different name changes – CenturyLink has emerged as the third largest telecommunications company in the United States.
  • The Delta Air Lines we know today is the result of many airline mergers over an 80-year period. Not without financial challenges, Delta emerged from bankruptcy in 2007, and merged with Northwest Airlines in 2010 creating one of the world’s largest airlines.
  • Tenneco started in the natural gas industry in 1930, but management later decided to diversify, turning the company into a conglomerate of six unrelated businesses: shipbuilding, packaging, farm and construction equipment, gas transmission, automotive, and chemicals. Eventually, they got out of all businesses except automotive parts, which is what they do today.
  • Western Digital started by selling calculator chips in the early 1970s. But when its biggest customer declared bankruptcy in 1976, Western Digital was forced to file for Chapter 11. Then, with the introduction of some landmark products, Western Digital entered into the data storage industry. Today it is one of the largest manufacturers of computer hard disk drives.

So what does this mean for the 250,000 employees working at these four companies? They’re likely pretty thankful for the value of perseverance as it’s why they have a job today.


Do you have a business story of perseverance?

What are you thankful for?


Today’s value was selected from the “Determination-Focus” category, based on the e-book Developing Your Differentiating Values.


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