Does Water Have More Determination Than Your Leadership Team?


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.       ~Calvin Coolidge

The power and force of water is one of the most creative and destructive forces in nature. While it may seem soft and inert when in a glass, a flowing stream or a waterfall can easily carve out deep valleys and erode cliffs. Water has an inherent and unstoppable determination to move to ever lower levels, following whatever path will take it steadily downwards. And water moving downwards is relentless. It just keeps moving and in the face of an obstacle simply seeks a way around or through.

A great example is the Grand Canyon in the southwestern United States which was created by the force of flowing water over thousands of years. Huge cliffs and valleys were formed by the simple force of flowing water.

Toroweap Point


How about your leadership team?

Does your leadership team have the stay power and dogged determination of water? Or do they seek the easy way out and then give up when faced with marketplace obstacles or new competitors?  I have watched many business leadership teams get all fired up over a new strategy or an infusion of capital from investors, only to wither and start complaining at the first sign of difficulty.

“We didn’t plan for this severe a market downturn!  Our strategic assessment didn’t take into consideration these economic sanctions. These aren’t the same competitors we built our business plans around.”  

Few leadership teams believe so much in their products, their purpose and each other’s skills that they, like a flowing stream, never give up. Most collapse at the first difficulty.

But teams that believe in each other and their fundamental purpose that, like a stream facing a rock wall, they simply keep searching for a way through. They find the crack that becomes a seam that with the pressure of determination becomes a rift and then a passage. They don’t wait for the market to change, they find a way through the obstacles and barriers. They have determination and commitment and they either find or make a way through the barriers. They never give up.

Never give up; for even rivers someday wash dams away. ~Arthur Golden

Written and Posted by: John R. Childress

Senior Executive Advisor on Leadership, Culture and Strategy Execution Issues,
Business Author and Advisor to CEOs
Visiting Professor, IE Business School, Madrid

Twitter @bizjrchildress

Read John’s blog,  Business Books Website

On Amazon: LEVERAGE: The CEO’s Guide to Corporate Culture

Read  The Economist review of LEVERAGE
Also on Amazon:   FASTBREAK: The CEO’s Guide to Strategy Execution

John also writes thriller novels!


About johnrchildress

John Childress is a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at or
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