According to Merriam-Webster, persistence is the act of “continuing stubbornly.” This means that, despite the opposition, we endure tenaciously. When the going gets tough, a lot of us take that as a sign that maybe this is not for us. But the truth of the matter is that persistence is the stuff success is made of.
Take Henry Ford, for example. His early businesses failed and left him broke 5 times before he founded Ford Motor Company. Walt Disney was once told that he lacked imagination and good ideas. It took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts before inventing the light bulb. He was also told by his teachers that he was too stupid to learn anything. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Dr. Suess’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers before it was accepted. And J.K. Rowling was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced and a single mom when she wrote Harry Potter.
Now, if they thought the way some of us think – that when we fail or if something doesn’t come easy for us that it’s a sign we should move on to something else – they wouldn’t have experienced the remarkable success they’ve become known for. Could you imagine a world without Disney Princesses? Life surely wouldn’t be the same without Elsa, Cinderella and Ariel for my daughters. Or how different would our childhoods be without the fun and silly Dr. Suess stories? I mean, Green Eggs and Ham? Come on!
The point is that there wouldn’t be a Ford Mustang, a perfect fadeaway or a wizarding world of Harry Potter without persistence. Anyone who ever achieved anything in life will tell you that they were persistent in the pursuit of their goals. They may have wanted to quit but didn’t because they wanted it that bad.
What about you? Is there a dream you gave up on after 1 or 2 tries? Or did you never even start? What would happen if you sprinkled a little persistence on top?
If you need to be convinced of why it’s important to be persistent, I have three reasons for you: it gives you vital experience, it teaches you the value of success and it develops character. Let me explain.
Ideally, when we experience failure, we analyze what went wrong and we figure out what we need to do differently next time to succeed. Sometimes, it takes us multiple tries to get it right, but what we may not notice is that the more we try, the more experience we’ve gained. I like what Thomas Edison said. He said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Throughout his trials, he found what will work and what will not work. And he may have used what he learned from one failure to help him succeed in another endeavor. Even if you’ve gone on 50 interviews, you’ll become an expert in interviewing so that you can be prepared the next time. So instead of being discouraged because of failing, think of the experience you’ve gained that you can use for next time.
Persistence also teaches you the value of success. If you’ve failed at something 1,000 times, how would you feel about success? How different would those feelings be if you succeeded after only 1 or 2 tries? I can testify that after being rejected for a number of jobs, when I finally was hired, I didn’t take that job for granted. I worked extra hard to prove to myself that I did belong there, despite the feelings that maybe I didn’t because of how many times I was told no. If I only went on 1-2 interviews, I may have felt that those jobs came a dime a dozen and that if I lost that one, I’d just go get another one. Persistence is important because we develop an appreciation for all the hard work that goes into achieving something.
Being persistent builds character. When you experience failure, it takes a lot mentally to pick yourself back up and try again. You have to fight through the negative thoughts and feelings telling you to give up, that you’re not good enough and that you’re just going to fail again. And then multiply this by the number of times you fail. Over time, you’ve become someone who is more humble, who can deal with failure gracefully. You’ve become someone who knows their worth and what they’re capable of. You’ve become stronger mentally and you know that you can overcome anything. People that succeed without hardly trying may not know how to deal if they were to suddenly fail at something they’ve always been good at. But failure develops you.
I am persistent
Now, let’s talk about ways that we can be more persistent in our lives. This is not an easy thing to do. What’s easy would be to give up. The hard part is persisting. Continuing stubbornly. Despite the opposition, enduring tenaciously.
I know what I want to do and why
It’s important to define what it is that you wish to do. Otherwise, how can you say whether or not you succeeded? Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else.” And it’s okay to shift course in the journey to where you’re going. For example, if you started off trying to bake a cake but then after several tries you realize you can make muffins, that’s okay. Learning from our mistakes can help us be successful in something else. The important thing is that you have a vision; a goal in mind before you start. And not only do you want to set a specific goal, you also want to declare why. Do you want this new corporate office job so you can make more money to afford college for your kids? Do you want to start your own business so that you can make your own hours and have more time at home with your family? Whatever your reasons why are, you will certainly look back on them when you feel like quitting. And they have to be strong enough to help you get and stay persistent.
I keep a positive attitude
It is almost inevitable that if you’re not successful on the first or second try, that you will get discouraged. Voices in your head will tell you this is not for you. To give up. That you’ll figure out another way to accomplish your “why.” But you have to stay positive. You have to tell yourself that this IS for you. That you CAN do it. That you WILL do it. That this is just step one of many to get to your goal. When it’s taking longer than you expected, remind yourself that you knew it might not happen right away. Remind yourself that the GOAT, or greatest of all time, himself, his royal airness was cut from the high school basketball team. That Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination. When you’re ready to give up, ask yourself how you would feel if you knew that you were just 6 months away from achieving your goal? Stay positive even when your thoughts and feelings are negative.
I am disciplined
Being disciplined means that you show a controlled form of behavior or way of working. When my friend was on a special diet to keep her blood pressure down, she knew that she would be tempted to break the good habits that she was forming. She knew that in a moment of weakness, she would convince herself that cheating on the diet would be okay and wouldn’t have consequences. But it was discipline that helped her stay on track and to overcome temptation. She remembered why she was on the diet in the first place. She reminded herself that she could do it and that she will do it. She didn’t let her mind convince her otherwise. She denied herself and made a small sacrifice because she knew she would have a big reward in the end.
Being persistent is not easy, but it has its perks. You will gain unmatched experience, you will learn the true value of success, and your character will be developed in a way that only failure can achieve. Once you’re committed to being persistent, remember to first define your goal and the “why” behind it. You’ll need this to keep going when you’re ready to quit. Stay positive even when you have negative thoughts and feelings, because they will come. And get and stay disciplined. If you do this, you will achieve your goals and take yourself to the next level.
Here are your positive affirmations to ponder on this week:
- I am persistent.
- I am gaining experience through my attempts to achieve my goal.
- I am learning the true value of success.
- I am building my character.
- I know what I want to do and why.
- I keep a positive attitude.
- I am disciplined.