When you think of determination, perseverance, or grit, does a mental picture instantly come to mind?  For me, my thoughts go directly to the Battle of Iwo Jima and the iconic photograph of the five American Marines and a Navy corpsman raising our flag triumphantly atop Mount Suribachi.  Mount Suribachi was an integral strategic stronghold during World War II.  This small, volcanic island would prove to be essential in our efforts, as it would be the ideal location to base our aerial campaign, sitting only seven hundred miles southeast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean.  However, to take this island, U.S. forces would have to battle an army of twenty-two thousand, who had been preparing for this invasion for months.  The Japanese army had created a multitude of underground tunnel systems and, for this island to be taken, many great and courageous acts of determination were required.  Through sheer determination and a mindset that remained focused and undeterred, our military had the resolve and grit to win this battle. 

We all face obstacles in our lives.  Many obstacles are physical, emotional, or personal, and some obstacles affect family relationships or our ability to perform our job.  However, obstacles do not have to be the end of the journey.  It is when the sea is raging and the storm clouds of life are darkening our skies that our determination is tested and tried.  Determination can be exhibited in a variety of ways.  Perhaps you are determined to lose weight in order to be healthier or to work above and beyond your duty so you can get that pay raise.  Or, maybe you are determined to focus more time and energy on your family.  We can become more determined to thrive and succeed in every facet of life.  The question is, “Are you willing to press harder to achieve your goal despite the road blocks that may come?”  

Determination is an absolute in any effective leader.  Leaders must have a clear vision, even if others cannot see it.  Leaders must also have the ability to encourage and inspire people when things seem to be heading in the wrong direction.  In a true leader, determination is not the absence of fear, rather the ability to be brave in the face of fear.  In closing, when speaking about determination and the power this extraordinary character trait has, I am reminded of a quote I once heard, “When obstacles arise, you change your direction in order to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”


Steve Wingfield