Determination is a positive emotional feeling that involves persevering towards a difficult goal in spite of obstacles. Determination occurs prior to goal attainment and serves to motivate behavior that will help achieve one’s goal.
To be determined. To have purpose. To be firm in your goals. To be committed to your direction of travel. To establish the why, the how and the what of a situation. That is what determination means to me. The sense of setting a goal, mentally committing to it, investing time, energy and resource in the process, and working towards achieving it.
“It takes a dream, to get started, desire to keep going and determination to finish”. Eddie Harris Jr
I am a dreamer, I am a starter, I am resilient and I am determined. The finish bit is interesting. I have started a lot of things, I have created communities, networks, schools and projects… I have finished my commitment to the process, but I have then handed them over to others to continue. The legacy lives on with the next leader (s) bringing their determination to the situation. I don’t believe that we travel on linear journeys and I don’t believe that determination means surviving nor being compromised.
I am wondering if some leaders have a false sense of determination. If their determination is a more powerful value than their resilience or compassion, then perhaps that is why people get trapped in a toxic situation. They are determined to survive, determined to serve, perhaps determined to prove people wrong, where as their determination should be directed into being determined that their values, their wellbeing, their purpose is being served and is being honoured.
Our values sometimes clash with each other. We need to explore the tension between them. For example, I can remember a Year 7 coming to me very upset one day after a values-assembly. “Miss, I just can’t get my head around how to be Honest and how to be Kind at the same time”. He was visibly upset as he grappled with his processing and as we talked it out he calmed down. He was determined to live our values and this was causing him undue stress.
“Determination is the wake up call to the human will”.
I am strong-willed. I am fiercely independent. I can be stubborn at times. I stand my ground. I have a fire in my belly when I am determined to do or achieve something. Nothing can stand in my way, as I will find a way around, over or under any obstacles that stand in my way. But I am not wilful – my deliberation and intentionality is not at the expense of others, I do consider the consequences. Sometimes I will ignore the consequences, but I do scope out the potential impact of my determination on others.
I think I have mentioned before that both my parents are self-employed so my sister and I were brought up with a high work ethic, we are a tenacious and productive family, we are determined, in a somewhat dogged fashion. We are ‘project managers’ and in some ways we are ‘task masters’, we are creators and completers. Grit and resilience are at the heart of our family values. ‘Character-building’ is a phrase my sister and I heard a lot growing up as we bounced back from failure.
I have applied that way of thinking, doing and being to every job I have had. I am known for being a ‘dog with a bone’ or having a ‘bit between my teeth’. I don’t give up. Sometimes to my own detriment, although I have consciously worked on and through that with coaches and mentors.
“We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort”.
In the past, I have been determined to: be successful… be seen… be heard… be respected… be promoted… be values-led… be ethical… be paid equally… be well…
In the present, I am determined to: make a success of my business…use my voice… empower others… model my values… have work-life harmony… carry on writing every day…
In the future, I am determined to: amplify the voices of others… champion diversity… advocate flexible working… change thinking… challenge the status quo… show there is another way… write a book…
After all, “There is no force equal to that of a determined woman”.
Sometimes my determination can lead to frustration, in my self and others, as patience is a virtue I need to continue to practise. I am a pace-setter, I am high energy, I don’t accept sub-standards, I don’t tolerate a lack of focus, I don’t respect a lack of commitment, I don’t listen to excuses and I don’t like a time lag.
I fear that some of my passions, like Diversity, Equality, Flexiblity and Wellbeing, which as a system and as a society we were gaining momentum and making progress (albeit slow) with have been halted, exasperated and detrimentally affected by the pandemic. I am determined to be part of the solution in not letting them lose priority and regress. We must keep moving forward.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward”.
Martin Luther King