Democrat Stacey Abrams is refusing to concede to Republican Brian Kemp in what has turned out to be a highly contested gubernatorial race in Georgia. With 99% of the votes reported, Kemp currently leads Abrams by a margin of 63,000 votes. Abrams is fighting for that last 1%. She’s pursuing every available option to ensure that every single vote is counted, and won’t back down until that has happened.
What business lessons can be learned from Abrams?
Persistence is critical. You must stand your ground even when you’re facing major opposition. Nearly all of the votes are in, but until that number reaches 100%, Abrams refuses to concede. The lesson learned is that you must exhaust all possibilities before you call it quits, and don’t give up until it’s officially over and you have lost.
Is there a chance that Stacey Abrams will lose the race? Yes, but until she’s absolutely certain of the results, one way or another, she isn’t going to quit. This tactic is called staying power. In business, sometimes it’s a game of who can stay in it the longest. In an election, there is a clear winner and loser, but in business it’s not always that black and white.
What if you’re on the verge of landing a deal, but it’s 51% likely that it won’t happen? What if you quit because of that 1% difference? You’ll never know for sure what the outcome would have been if you quit when the margins get close. Imagine what could happen if you stick it out and see it through until the very end, where all uncertainty has been removed. If you end up losing, you’ll know for sure the loss was unavoidable.
How do you know when to give up?
You have to consider all of the factors. Look beyond the temptation to give on a project just because the payout is small, or to chase every project with a large budget. There’s more at stake than simply getting paid. You have to consider all of the factors, most notably opportunities for repeat business and future growth. In Abrams’ case, the implications are far greater than simply getting elected. She’s fighting for the chance to make history and change the party in power.
You have to determine the scope and potential outcome of the project to know how far to pursue things. A small project could lead to referrals that lead to bigger clients. A large project could pay fairly well, but is almost uncertainly a one-off project with no room for growth. A big ticket project that can set you up for financial freedom is definitely worth pursuing. Take the time to evaluate the opportunity, then decide it’s worth pursuing until there are absolutely no options left, as Abrams is doing in her refusal to back down.
How far is too far?
After all measures have been exhausted, it’s time to accept the loss. Abrams is still fighting, with talks of a runoff election and measures to ensure that there are absolutely no uncounted ballots. However, these are last ditch efforts, as a runoff is only possible when neither candidate has 50% of the votes. At the time of writing, opponent Brian Kemp had 50.3% of the vote compared to Abrams’ 48.7%, with the remaining 0.9% going to Ted Metz. The margin is close, but Kemp has crossed the legally defined threshold. Some say that she’s taking it too far, while others praise her for her tenacity.
The danger in going too far is that it can end up damaging your reputation. You don’t want to be known as the person who doesn’t know when to quit. A person who never backs down, even in the case of absolute defeat, is the very definition of difficult to work with. Having this reputation will be extremely detrimental to your business. Once you’ve been labeled as difficult, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of that label.
Will Abrams come out ahead if she ends up conceding? Only time will tell. In politics, unlike business, refusal to back down at all costs is a positive trait. If she does win the race, her tenacity will pay off in dividends. It remains to be seen what the outcome will be, and what that means for Abrams’ future.
The moral of the story and the lesson we can learn from Abrams is to be persistent regardless of the challenges you may face. Go after what you want and give it your full effort, and you can rest assured that no matter what the outcome is, you’ve done everything.
Ashira Prossack, Forbes 11/9/18