The Value of Determination

Growing up, I always thought that my home town was the coolest place on earth. Founded in 706 B.C. by Dorian Greek immigrants as the only Spartan colony, Taranto (this is the name of my home town) soon became the capital of Magna Graecia (the Great Greece), the association of Greek colonies in the Southern Part of Italy and a Greek “state” in all respects.

At the apex of its success, Taranto was threatened by the expanding political and military power of Rome. Although founded by Spartans, Taranto, and the Tarentines, did not have the same military savvy of its founders and had to resort to the aid of stronger powers. The first time, as Rome army was approaching the region of Apulia from the North, Taranto leaders called upon King Pyrrhus of Epirus, a territory between Greece and Albania. In his time, Pyrrhus was a “world” renowned military strategist and a fierce warrior. His army was able to defeat Rome in a few battles and to establish a stronghold in Southern Italy. However, he suffered heavy losses and had to deal with the threat of a Carthage invasion of Sicily from the sea. Pyrrhus desire to expand his control was frustrated by his lack of diplomacy and the inability to see that he did not have the resources to fight too many opponents. He decided to leave Italy and return to his land where he focussed on a successful expansion of his kingdom to include Macedonia. A victory that comes at a heavy loss for the victor, and in effect, becomes a loss in itself because of the inability to follow through with the opportunities that victory would have provided, is still called a “Pyrrhic Victory” today.

As usual, history provides us with a learning opportunity, which can be applied to both our personal and professional levels. When I think of Pyrrhus, I admire his determination. Determination is a value that sometime we overlook. More and more, I see that people desire an easy way out and give up too soon, especially when the going gets tough. From a personal perspective, I see this happening much at the family level. Many husbands and wives become overwhelmed with the challenges of marriage and instead of working towards solving problems and building a relationship, they decide not to be determined to be successful in their role as husbands and wives and quit their relationship. This is evident in the continuous rising of divorces and the formation of casual relationships where there is no legal commitment or tie between the parties. The result is a deterioration of society at its very foundation as families become weaker and unable to learn, understand, and master the skills that can only be learned, understood and mastered through working together to overcome difficulties.

It is also evident in professional environments, where companies form and disintegrate quickly not for lack of expertise or quality of products and services provided. Rather, it happens because of the expectation that results have to come quickly and not necessarily with much effort. In many cases, the focus is too loose or wide or both, and the effort is put on short-term goals rather than on a long-term vision.

I was recently approached by a friend of mine who had to make a very difficult decision. She was becoming increasingly confused as to what to do. I asked her if she had a plan and, in fact, a long-term plan for herself. She thought she had one, but when we sat down to review it, I soon found out that what she had was no plan at all. We then discussed her goals and defined her long-term objectives. Once we did that, we went on to list the steps and deadlines to get there. She now has a plan and she does not feel confused anymore. However, the most important part of my conversation with her was that she needed to work hard and be determined to achieve those goals. The temptation to give up at the first sign of difficulty will creep up. That is the moment when one needs to put more effort and “stick to guns”. It will make a difference.

Pyrrhus had to change his focus, but he never gave up on his determination to reach his goals. Once in a while we may have to make corrections to our direction. Change is normal and we should expect it. However, let us not waver on our determination to fulfill our dreams and achieve our good desires: giving up is not an option if we wish to be successful in life.

Hannibal the Great, another general and statesman who challenged Rome and tried to help Taranto in its struggle to keep the Romans away from that city, epitomized the value of determination when he was told by his fellow generals that it would impossible to cross the Alps with elephants. He boldly responded: I will either find a way, or make one (“Aut viam inveniam, aut faciam”).

At times our goals will be like elephants that need to climb mountains. Let us respond to the challenge by finding the way or creating one.

adf

Advertisements

About alby59

Alberto has a 25-year plus career in Local Government which began as City Manager in Italy. He currently serves as Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Lake Country in beautiful Central Okanagan BC. In addition, Alberto is Adjunct Professor to the Political Science Department of the University of Northern British Columbia and teaches a variety of local government related courses. He has developed a series of lectures on Leadership and Ethics and is designing a Project Management course aimed at Local Government and public sector practitioners. Very active in both his professional and academic life, Alberto has served as President of the Local Government Management Association of BC and the Association of Records Management Administrators of BC and Yukon. He also served as member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Tsunami Recovery Committee for the reconstruction of communities and local governments in Sri Lanka and Indonesia hit by the 2004 Tsunami and managed an FCM capacity building program with the City of San Fernando, La Union in the Philippines while with the Township of Langley. Alberto has earned facilitator certifications with Franklin Covey and Cognitive Edge, and continues to foster his interest in personal education and professional development. He is an avid reader, music lover, and science fiction movie aficionado. He plays guitar and piano for fun and sings with his wife and his children. He is also very active in his church and community being a former Rotarian and currently serving as the Second Counselor in the Thompson Okanagan (Vernon Stake) Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. However, his most important interest is his family: his wife Silvana and their two children Victor and Grace.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to The Value of Determination

  1. I enjoy your writing

  2. Mario Vaira says:

    Sono perfettamente d’accordo sul valore della determinazione. E’ quel sentimento che riesce a produrre in noi la nascita di risorse interiori capaci di motivarci, di suggerirci strategie, di spingerci a pensare e ad osare soluzioni prima non intraviste. Penso sia essenziale nella vita di una persona responsabile di sè stessa e di altri.
    Grazie Alberto, gli esempi citati sono davvero esplicativi.
    Mario

  3. Sheila MacKay says:

    Thank you for starting out my week with this inspiring and thought provoking post.

  4. Leanne Hammond Komori says:

    I had flagged this one to read later and later was this morning. Great way to start my week after a long weekend with lots of thinking about “my plan” for the future. Great timing Alfred! Very inspiring.

  5. Trevor Robar says:

    As usual, great post!

  6. Linda Bilben says:

    inspired writing!

  7. Gran bell’articolo Alberto, grazie!

  8. Marco says:

    Bellissima riflessione. Siamo la società del tutto e subito, aspettare, avere pazienza, saper pianificare a lungo termine ed avere la determinazione per andare fino in fondo sono cose sempre più rare, e ciò che è peggio è che un tale atteggiamento non viene in nessuna maniera incoraggiato, anzi… Un saluto da chi Taranto (o meglio una tarantina) l’ha sposata! Ciao!

  9. Kathleen says:

    Thank you very much Alberto! Perfect timing!

  10. Wally Wells says:

    Always enjoy what you write. Thank you.

  11. Marta Becerril says:

    I love the historical references. I never cease to be inspired by the stories of that come to us from earlier times of our civilization.

  12. Jim Shedden says:

    I would like to think you write of the ‘silent majority’. Thank you for your insights.

  13. Giovanni Delle Fogie says:

    ….la storia e’ la mia passione caro Alberto, il tuo pezzo mi ha fatto tornare un po indietro nel tempo quando masticavo libri di storia a ripetizione…….grazie…..un abbraccio a te e a Silvana…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s