Persilience is something that is essential to success of any endeavour you undertake, whether it is achieving project success, business success or virtually anything else.
Persilience: an amalgam of resilience and persistence that recognises the importance of both characteristics.
– Resilience is the ability to recover readily from adversity;
– Persistence is about perseverance, resolve and determination.
The two elements are not always combined in equal measure; sometimes you just need to get on with it (this is persistence) but at other times you need the strength of flexibility.
Resilient people bend before excessively strong forces, absorb the energy and then recover, if necessary reframe or modify their approach and move on, their personal integrity intact.
The origins of persilience
The idea of persilience came from a meeting earlier this year with colleagues in Paris where we were discussing the topic of successful implementation of programs in organisations. It was -10 degrees in Paris at that time. Despite (or because of) the extreme cold we met for dinner at a restaurant in the heart of Paris.
We were discussing the central theme – ‘what makes projects work?’ What is the key to success? A Brazilian colleague told me a story about a PM guru of the 80s who said was that you only needed one characteristic to be a successful PM – you had to be ‘tough!’
By ‘tough’ the guru meant being able to maintain faith and support in the project in the face of adversity and carry it through despite all setbacks. The meaning of the word ‘tough’ has changed over the years so we had a discussion about what word would best fit the characteristic – we didn’t disagree with the characteristic but needed a better word to describe it in today’s terms.
We decided that what was needed was a mixture of resilience and persistence in building and maintaining the relationships that mattered for PM success. And thus with the help of some fine wine the new blended word persilience was born.
Used wisely, the concept of persilience recognises Abraham Ribicoff’s concept of ‘the integrity of compromise’ where this is necessary and in the best interests of everyone whilst also allowing for stubborn persistence when ethical standards or other core values are being challenged.
Ethical persilience won’t resolve every problem but it can offer a benchmark characteristic for us all to aspire to achieving.