What is the secret recipe for success?
Talent is certainly a part of the equation. Networking and time management are important, too. Adaptability will help you navigate an ever-changing world. Yet two qualities – passion and perseverance – will ultimately determine your chances of long-term success. Learn to develop these two qualities, and you’ll be one step closer to accomplishing your goals.
Here, local professionals share how a combination of passion and perseverance has put them on a path to success.
Photography by Emily Long
Opportunity in the Midst of Chaos
“At a time like this, it would be easy to pull back and wait to see how things progress; however, with our past experience and our perseverance, we are now looking forward to the future and are more optimistic than ever.” –Mitch Patel
(Photo by Rich Smith)
Head of School, Silverdale Baptist Academy
Education has been a passion of mine from my earliest memory. My elementary school was adjacent to my backyard, so playacting as a teacher for me was second nature in that type of setting. When I entered the teaching profession, I had a vivid “Aha!” moment. I was driving to work one crisp fall morning and realized that I was driving to a job that was my calling. It was a gratifying moment, and it imprinted joy into my soul. Once I began to teach, every time I passed a vacant building, I would think that one day I was going to start a school in that particular building. For years I would make that declaration, even though I had no idea how I was going to make it happen.
As it turned out, I didn’t have to make it happen – God made it happen. He used the dreams and passion of a young girl, and then later the perseverance of a woman who loved education and children. He let her join Him where He was at work in starting a school. The perseverance it takes for a leader to forge a way for those they lead reminds me of a river flowing through rock. While that river can cut through rock, it is not because of its power. It is because of its perseverance. It shows up, day after day, year after year, to get the job done. Leaders with a passion do the same.
“(God) used the dreams and passion of a young girl, and then later the perseverance of a woman who loved education and children.”
President & CEO, Magnolia Developments, LLC
“The harder you work, the luckier you get” is a slogan that hangs on the wall in my office as a reminder that you create your own luck by working hard. I have been blessed to achieve success in many endeavors while never losing sight of my love for real estate development, home design, and construction.
In my younger years, I was more driven by my athletic abilities. In high school, I was an all-state basketball player with dreams of playing in the NBA. Although my basketball career ended in high school due to more lucrative collegiate scholarship opportunities in track and field, I was able to fulfill my goal of being a professional athlete by competing professionally in track and field, all while working full-time as an engineer at TVA.
After a few years of engineering work, I obtained a project management professional license and began leading teams and major projects. I chose this career path because it transitions well into the construction industry. While managing major projects for TVA and leading one of its project management offices, I was able to obtain a contractor’s license and began developing properties on the side. Working two full-time jobs was tough, but those sleepless nights enabled me to start my own company – Magnolia Developments, LLC. I believe my success is a result of learning from life experiences, hard work, and perseverance in pursuit of the many passions that culminated into a very special real estate development company.
“I believe my success is a result of learning from life experiences, hard work, and perseverance in pursuit of passion.”
(Photo by Rich Smith)
Founder & CEO, CPRWrap
Every day since I started my business, I get excited about building a company that has the potential to be life changing.
I knew starting out that this journey was not going to be easy for me as a Black female founder, but I had passion and perseverance. I had to spend lots of time being uncomfortable, experiencing setbacks, and overcoming many failures. I used to tell people I could only see what was ahead because I worked with blinders on. As I became completely absorbed in the work, all aspects of time seemed to disappear, and I was able to not only make sound decisions but execute them as well.
My passion and perseverance are fueled by knowing every day that my product could be the reason someone might have a chance at life. My journey as a Black female founder has been fueled by overcoming fears and my strength to get back up after being told I didn’t belong. My journey as an entrepreneur has been fueled by calls from young entrepreneurs expressing how I have inspired them to keep going. And most importantly, my journey as a business owner and mom has been fueled by being witness to how my successes, and even failures, have shaped and strengthened my family’s bond.
The day I decided to step out of my comfort zone and into what has proven to be the hardest, but most gratifying, time of my life was when I could truly visualize my potential as a founder and the potential of my company, CPRWrap.
“My journey as a Black female founder has been fueled by overcoming fears and my strength to get back up after being told I didn’t belong.”
President & CEO, P&C Construction
“Can’t never could, won’t never will” is a phrase my mom used on her children quite often to prompt us to endeavor to reach our potential. Ironically, my mother-in-law used the same psychology when she needed something from us.
Another old saying they both used was: “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
As a young man in church, many times I would be in charge of the song service. Our wise old pastor watched as I came in with my emotions vividly displayed for all to see. He pulled me aside one day and told me that the singing set the tone for the entire service, so I needed to come in, no matter what, with a smile on my face and a positive attitude. That was painful to hear, but it set the tone for who I wanted to be. I wanted to be a help to others.
The blessing of wonderful and positive influences in those we are surrounded by every day can, for sure, help give you the strength to continue, but the leader must be the force of perseverance and positive thinking!
Learning to turn every problem into an opportunity is not only challenging, it is at so many times the difference between success and failure. Each individual in a leadership role must be able to reach into their inner self and find the grit to face the daily issues that arise. And they will, with dignity and the passionate mindset of, “We can do this!”
“Each individual in a leadership role must be able to reach into their inner self and find the grit to face the daily issues that arise.”
President & CEO, Vision Hospitality Group
I have always believed that you will work harder and find more success in your career if you have a passion for it. Since I started in hospitality, my passion has only grown. It has fueled the desire to grow our company as well as a relentless pursuit to improve on our operating acumen. That passion has not only inspired us to be more creative in how we develop hotels, but also in what kind of hotels we build. As we continue to grow, our progress only fuels our passion; that passion is contagious and creates a self-perpetuating, virtuous circle.
Passion and perseverance also help us push through adversity. There has never been a time that could be more disheartening for a hotelier than 2020. At one point in April, revenues for the lodging industry were down more than 80% over the same time the previous year. At a time like this, it would be easy to pull back and wait to see how things progress; however, as the saying goes, “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” Coming out of the Great Recession, we grew more as a company than at any other time in our history. With our past experience, our tremendous passion for hospitality, and our perseverance, we are now looking forward to the future and are more optimistic than ever.
Passion and perseverance, especially in the face of adversity, are great motivators and teachers. My recommendation to anyone is if you want to find success, find your passion and follow it.
“Passion and perseverance, especially in the face of adversity, are great motivators and teachers.”
Music Instructor, Mountain Arts Community Center & St. Nicholas School
It is difficult to become successful in your field and in life if you do not have both passion and perseverance. You cannot just hope to be successful; it is something that must be worked toward in everything that you do.
I have always had a passion for music. I wanted to be a piano teacher for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I had some piano teachers whom I loved, and others that I didn’t mesh well with. Even so, I persevered and still practiced as much as I could. Some would say that I was talented in my craft, and although there might have been some truth to that, I still worked hard to become better each week. Even when I had one piano teacher tell me that he didn’t believe I would be able to be a music major, I still continued to practice audition pieces, and my passion for music never dwindled. I’m thankful that I didn’t allow one person to discourage me from being a music major, because my hard practice led to successful auditions and receiving scholarships from different colleges.
Almost immediately after I graduated from college, I began teaching piano and am now a full-time teacher. I come across students who think they are not talented enough to ever play well. But if talent was the only factor to determine success, there would be no need for my job, and practicing wouldn’t matter much. My story is proof that although talent can definitely help gain success, passion and perseverance are absolutely necessary as well.
“My story is proof that although talent can definitely help gain success, passion and perseverance are absolutely necessary as well.”
Chief Executive Officer, The Double Cola Company
The notion of perseverance has been engrained in me since childhood. My high school motto was, “Perseverance commands success.” Whether it was in academics or sports, everything revolved around trying … and trying harder. In today’s global competitive environment, I have become even more respectful of the power of perseverance. We have heard remarkable stories of J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, etc., who achieved success simply by having the perseverance to achieve their objectives.
Passion, similarly, plays a significant role in our personal and professional lives. Early on in my business life, I had three major criteria when I was considering hiring a new employee: ability, integrity, and initiative. Later, I added a fourth one: passion. I have found that employees who are passionate in their jobs tend to find effective solutions more quickly to the challenges that they face in their work. On top of that, their passion becomes infectious and rubs off on other employees. Of course, passion does not mean blindly working to achieve goals – it means fully understanding and caring deeply about a company’s products, its customers, and its mission.
Working in a very competitive industry, I passionately believe in our company’s products, its mission, and its customers. Over the years, we have experienced challenges and gone through some rough times. My sense tells me that at some time in the future, we will surely go through tough times again. But, my conviction (passion) and determination (perseverance) will, I believe, play a huge role in the direction we go. In the meantime, we will continue to build the company with talented people who display passion and perseverance.
“Working in a very competitive industry, I passionately believe in our company’s products, its mission, and its customers.”