It is the ultimate key to success. With it – your success is only a matter of time. Without it – your success is only a feeble fantasy!
Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the United States said it best when he said, “Nothing in the 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. The slogan `Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Zig Ziglar once said, “It’s better to borrow from brilliance than to create mediocrity.” And in this spirit of borrowing from the greatest minds that have graced planet earth, consider these words carefully: “Many of life’s failures are prople who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Thomas Edison. “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work….” Albert Einstein. “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our true potential.” Winston Churchill. “In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins; not through strength, but through persistence.” Buddha. And from Abraham Lincoln, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
Can one learn to have more perseverance, persistence, tenacity, stick-to-itiveness, dogged determination, and grit? Consider the following dozen steps! Work on them one or two at a time if you must – but work on them and you’ll find that the answer to the above questions is a resounding YES!
1. Take Responsibility for Yourself.
Realize that if you want more - you need to get better. There is no ‘secret sauce’ the reality of life is that we are all the culmination of the choices we’ve made up to this point, wherever this point is! Luck is not some grace that falls upon us indiscriminately; it’s Laboring, Under, Correct, Knowledge. We make our own luck. If we don’t like where we are – we CAN change and be something better in the future, but that requires us to be true to ourselves and follow the advice of Socrates - examine our life and take responsibility for it!
2.Aggressively Seek Positive Influences.
Recent scientific evidence indicates that negative experiences are up to 5 times as powerful in the chemistry of the brain as positive ones. We must carefully guard what we allow to enter our minds. We talk to ourselves at up to 800 words a minute and we must be positive with ourselves. We must intentionally select positive re-enforcements. This includes the books and CD/DVD programs, movies, and the music we select for our entertainment – we must seek those with strong, uplifting themes. This also includes the people we spend time with – if they’re the ‘Well Poisoner’ type that Walt Disney describes then we should avoid them where possible.
Michael Jordan said, “If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” Choose to associate with people who can provide you with a hand up, and a vote of support. These are the people Walt Disney describes as ‘Life Enrichers’ – be one, and associate with those who enrich your life.
3. Healthy Living is Key to Managing Your Stress.
Healthy living is a decision that is crucial for you because your energy and stamina are necessary for perseverance, and essential in combating stress. You need to be in top form for focus, resilience, self-confidence, optimism, clarity, and intensity. The word s t r e s s evokes scenes of breakdown, unhappiness and disruption of normal body functioning. Actually, stress is the effect of any external physical or mental pressure on your well-being. The primary causes of stress are anxiety and tension, which are much easier managed when we’re as healthy as possible.
4.When Seeking Advice, Carefully Consider the Source!
It would be good to ask, "What is true?" not "What do others think is true?" If you want to shorten the distance from perseverance to achievement, you want to learn from the mistakes of others rather than repeating them yourself. And you want to use the methods that have brought others the success you seek. Practice does NOT make perfect – only perfect practice does - so be very careful whose advice you follow.
5.Avoid Inaction and the Common Alibis used to Justify.
Remember how to spell Rationalize? Rational LIES! Don’t allow yourself to 'rational lies' about your accomplishments – remember, “If it is to be it’s up to me!” Peter Drucker said that a “B” plan well executed is much better than an “A” plan that isn’t acted on. Don’t become hung up on analyzing to the point that it becomes “anal”-yzing, even when excuses naturally flourish! Get busy – the key is ACTION. Not mindless action, but the kind of action that leads to accomplishment.
6. Eliminate Counter-productive Habits.
Retain teach-ability or become teachable! Realize that being mentally or emotionally rigid means that you hang on to habits that no longer serve you. These habits can make you unproductive, frustrated, and unfulfilled. Some examples of counter-productive habits that may reduce your accomplishments:
Bellyaching about politics, problems at work or the neighbors…
Making mountains out of molehills…
Dwelling in the past or future…
Excessive worry about stuff that may not happen or that you can’t control anyway…
Having a “victim” mentality…
Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot do. When you focus on what you cannot do, you get more of it – that’s the way the mind works… We’re kidding ourselves by doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. Drop your bad habits by replacing them with good habits… If this seems difficult, realize that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and remember the classic Aesop fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare."
7. Willingly Forgive Yourself & Others.
Do this for your own sake, your own peace of mind. Harboring grudges, disapproval, hatred, or disappointment can poison your spirit of perseverance and accomplishment. Whether the subject person is someone else or yourself, you are the one feeling the wound. You don't hurt others when you hold hatred toward them; you only hurt yourself. Because the mind isn’t capable of simultaneously experiencing anger and joy - you need to make plenty of room for the joy!
8. Take Reasonable Risks.
You must not be afraid to take reasonable risks. Without risk, there is no reward. Risk management is more important than risk avoidance. Risk avoidance dampens the spirit, undermining the will to persist in the face of obstacles and reversals. Thomas J. Watson, the founder of IBM said that the sure way to increase your success rate is to double your failure rate! It’s OK to fail, if we learn from those failures…
Basketball’s greatest player, Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed!” Zig Ziglar gave us some fantastic advice when he said, “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”
9. Get Support.
No man is an island, everyone needs a support system, none of us can be successful by ourselves. We are a team and together every one of us will accomplish more. Synergy is KEY. Every one of us can do a better job supporting those around us – you be the catalyst – NOW.
10. Plan your Work.Without a plan you’ll keep plenty busy with minutia – but what’s the point? Chuck Coonradt, author of the book The Game of Work said, “In the absence of clearly defined goals we’re forced to concentrate on activities and ultimately become enslaved by them.” Why become a slave to non-productive activities? Take the time to plan your day – every day - even if it’s doing nothing more than identifying the top 5 or 6 things that you must accomplish that day.
When planning your work remember -
WHY SMART Goals:
W = Written
H = Harmonious
Y = Yours
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely
11. Do not Quit.
Perseverance is the insurance policy and common denominator for success. So powerful is perseverance that failure cannot exist in its presence. Lessons from history are legion – learn from them, parallel them. Remember and apply these words from Calvin Coolidge, “Nothing in the 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. The slogan `Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
12. Have Fun!
Love your work! Sadly only 6% of Americans claim to love what they do for a living. Be among that minority! Your attitude and personality can help make what you do for a living fun! We’re rarely extraordinarily good at doing things we hate to do. If we’re having fun, we’ll do more and do it better.
Finally, Confucius provided the nutshell to success when he wrote more than 4,000 years ago in China, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” To me, this is a yardstick article! One that you can measure yourself against - now, tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. If you inspect in yourself what you expect from yourself – you’ll make tremendous progress. Just remember to always get up, and always keep moving towards your goals.