I took a walk last week with the pooch, Simona.  She is curious and loves a new “sniff” adventure, so I tried out a new path in my Beaverton neighborhood.  It was quiet, peaceful and overgrown with blackberry bushes.   The berries, still green, wait in anticipation for more summer warmth and sun to ripen.

And the thorns were sharp, intimidating.

And being the “pocket biologist’ that I am, I thought about the evolution of blackberries. How they go from prickly thorns to ultimate sweetness as they ripen and find themselves in that first blackberry pie.   The blackberry bushes were green and lush, but I know that to relish the berries later in the summer, I will need to overcome the nasty barbs that keep friend and foe away.  Still, I will dive in come  August, with long sleeve shirt and pants, and risk getting scratched.   

I do it every year. It is worth it.   I am willing to persevere, to figure out how to reach behind the thorns, perhaps with a plank thrown against the bushes,  to get to the biggest berries up high and in the back, which often end up in my stomach and not in the pail.

It reminds me of how in our organizations we encounter thorny and even painful challenges and circumstances that deter us from our goals.  We humans generally like to avoid discomfort, and yet it is the brave in our businesses that persevere in spite of the obstacles.   It’s important not to be dissuaded and like the berry picker, although we may suffer a few scratches, stay the course and overcome the barriers we encounter.  We know the reward is in sight.  We do not turn away … and take a step forward in spite of the barbs.

To that end, here are a few ideas to help us persevere in spite of challenges:

1.       “Go berry picking with others”:   laugh and enjoy the challenge with others on your team.  In other words, share the “pain” and overcome obstacles together.

2.       Get creative and use your right brain.  Sometimes we overanalyze our challenges, using logic.  Instead take out a pencil, crayons, chalk and draw a solution.    Stick with it, and you may be surprised at the visual answers that emerge to address that issue.

3.       Finally, perseverance is also about attitude.  Two steps forward and one step backward is progress.  So celebrate the small wins.

 And enjoy that first piece of blackberry pie.