Persist. It Matters

By Thomas Oppong

We are complex creatures. Hope and anguish can coexist and still create something truly amazing. Persistence is the ability to maintain action regardless of your feelings. You press on even when you feel like quitting, until you achieve that important goal. I surprise myself everyday.

People give up too soon because they have wrong expectations of themselves and the outcome. They expect the way to be easy, and they are surprised when they find the reality to be the opposite. Their enthusiasm quickly melts and they lose heart.

So start your journey with the right expectation. And don’t underestimate the amount of time required either.

Remember, there is no such thing as cheap success. Expect a hard way, not an easy one, and you will be mentally prepared when you encounter the reality.

The size of your commitment should be proportional to the size of your desire.

You will be blown away by what you can achieve if you don’t lose hope in yourself. Einstein persisted and stayed with problems longer to make sure he found exactly what he was looking for. He once said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Persistence, has a lot to do with your success in life and business. Persistence is omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge once said “The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”. Talent and genius cannot take the place of persistence.

The value of persistence comes from a vision of the future that’s so compelling you would give almost anything to make it real.

Persistence of action comes from persistence of vision. When you’re super-clear about what you want in such a way that your vision doesn’t change much, you’ll be more consistent — and persistent — in your actions. And that consistency of action will produce consistency of results.

Every obstacle is an opportunity to improve

“I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” — Og Mandino

When you work on any big goal, your motivation can wax and wane. Sometimes you’ll feel motivated; sometimes you won’t. But it’s not your motivation that will produce results — it’s your action. The decision to persist. To make progress even when you don’t feel like it.

Persistence allows you to keep taking action even when you don’t feel motivated to do so, and therefore you keep accumulating results.

On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Machinery worth millions and all the papers pertaining to his lifelong research were burnt to ashes.

Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”

Thomas Edison’s persistence was exemplified in his famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

A.H. Wilson, his vice president and general manager, told The Times after the flames died down: “There’s only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.”

In his book, “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday writes:

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life — that’s persistence.”

People who persist no matter the obstacles, sooner or later are bound to succeed. Despite the setbacks, it’s in your best interest to turn obstacles into stepping stones. Don’t choose to complain, or worse, to just give up. These choices do nothing to get you across the finish line.

Elbert Hubbard once made a profound statement about the importance of not given up. She said “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

Giving up is not an option

“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down seventy times and get up off the floor saying. “Here comes number seventy-one!” ~ Richard M. Devos

A lack of persistence or “giving up too soon” is one of the most common reasons for failure in any endeavor. A little more persistence, a little more effort is sometimes what you need to get closer to the goal.

Once you create a belief that there is an obstacle you can’t overcome, you stop looking for solutions.

Pursue an all-consuming goal: have a big why

The greater the accomplishment you seek, the more likely you will persist to achieve it. Bill Bradley once said “Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”

Persistence in the service of a higher goal calls out many other virtues in you. You will push yourself to beyond what is comfortable to achieve your chosen goal.

And you should know why you want your goal in the first place. And your why must be bigger than the obstacles. The bigger your why the better.

Persistent people have a goal or vision in mind that motivates and drives them. Reaching this goal becomes the focal point of their life and they devote a greater percentage their energies and time toward reaching it.

To stay persistent, break that big goal down into smaller pieces!

Smaller pieces are easier to manage and easier to accomplish, and they’ll give you a feeling of accomplishment sooner.

Here is how:

  • Divide it by time. Tackle a task in 15 or 30 minute or one-hour pieces. If you’re trying to change your habits, go for one day, then another. If you want to write, tackle half a page at a time.
  • Use the same approach to complete any new habit. Start a side project with the same mindset and you will stay persistent. Spend a few minutes on your life’s work after work everyday.
  • Three times per week is better than nothing, and it might not seem so difficult. Then, build up from there.
  • Learn what motivates you and ride on that. Use motivation to your advantage. Challenge yourself to finish a certain amount or to get through a certain amount of time.
  • Keep score. Write your progress in a journal or calendar. Progress is the ultimate motivator. Once you see results, you will strive to continue.
  • Reward yourself for persisting. Big goals can take months or even years to achieve. The longer the time it takes to achieve the goal, the more you risk losing motivation. Reward small actions towards bigger goals. That way you are more likely to persist with reaching your bigger goal.

Greatness is not measured by what is accomplished. It is measured by how many times you pick yourself up and try again.

Persistence is steel determination.

Think for a moment. Names like Picasso, Mozart, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk should remind you about the importance of persistence. And why it pays to keep on trying. Dale Carnegie said, “ Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”


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