“The price of success comes from dedication, hard work,
unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.
Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half hearted attempts don’t
produce half hearted results. They produce nothing!
-Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect
My first and most memorable pet was a cuddly, loving and gentle Cocker Spaniel by the name of Amber. I have only one negative memory of this wonderful creature. One day, Amber swiped a bone out of the garbage. I watched her gnaw away for what seemed like an eternity until I got bored. I decided it was time she played with me. “That’s it for you kiddo,” I exclaimed. As I reached down to deprive her of her delicacy, a low growl of warning escaped from deep down in her throat. It scared me half to death and needless to say, I didn’t proceed forward. Once a dog gets hold of a bone, he doesn’t let go until it is gone. In a strange way, it served as a great lesson in perseverance, persistence, tenacity, steadfastness or, if you prefer “doggedness.” This quality is one of the major attributes of success.
Successful people are those who – in spite of difficulties, obstacles, fear and failures – keep hammering away until they achieve their goal. There are numerous examples of well known individuals who persevered in face of stiff competition and hurdles. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Alva Edison, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Louis Armstrong, Mother Teresa, Ray Charles and Christopher Reeve are but a few. But, there are also hundreds of thousands of “everyday folks” whose names are not in the history books who have succeeded through perseverance. They are everywhere. All you have to do it look because – success leaves clues.
I began by looking at the people closest to me and I was impressed. Like the steam engine in the book, “The Little Engine That Could”, they all exhibit this essential element of success and each had to learn it, often by the example of a parent, teacher, mentor or spiritual leader. My brother is like a bulldog. When he makes up his mind to do something, he will complete the task no matter the hardship. My wife Susan gets an idea in her head and she simply won’t let it go until it’s accomplished. My assistant Linda will simply not quit until a task is complete – no matter the difficulty. My manager and dear friend Tony, as well as other friends and family, have this wonderful “chip” embedded in their being – persistence. Because I believe that the people we hold closest are a reflection of our inner being, then it also makes sense that I would have the same attribute. When I’m committed to a goal, there is no obstacle that stops me from attaining it.
Perseverance is an attitude, a choice. But, is it always positive? Not necessarily and this is where it gets a bit sticky, because perseverance can be both a blessing and a curse. What if the goal you are pursuing is totally, absolutely unrealistic and unattainable? Obviously, persevering under these circumstances would be useless and possibly self-destructive. It would not only cause you great disappointment but would crash your hopes and dreams and destroy your self-confidence. So, the bottom line is that you must choose a reasonable and realistic goal that you can reach, that you really want and that will challenge you.
Perseverance is not only an attitude – it is also a major antidote to fear. In order to successfully reach our dreams, we must learn, change, adapt and grow. All who reach for lofty goals will come face to face with their own unique fear. Fears don’t disappear overnight, but they can be conquered with time. Perseverance is the quality that gives you the time to diminish the negative hold of terror by consistently confronting and challenging the very thing you dread.
“Perseverance is a great element of success.
If you only knock long enough and loud enough
at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 19th century American Poet
Here are 5 strategies to help you develop perseverance, achieve your goals and live an exceptional life:
1) CHOOSE A GOAL WITH CARE: Avoid heartache by choosing realistic and sensible goals. Make sure that you are passionate and excited about your goal and that your goal is aligned with your deepest core values. Now you can shore up your motivation with perseverance.
2) DEVELOP SELF-AWARENESS: Honestly examine the costs and benefits of sticking to your goal. What price will you have to pay in your family life or your business? And are you willing to pay it?
3) PLAN CAREFULLY: Prepare, prepare, prepare. Imagine your goal as already successful and then work backwards, mapping out each step you will take today and all the tomorrows until you are successful.
4) MAKE FRIENDS WITH FAILURE. British actress Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Every successful individual has failed and all have learned that failure is the necessary feedback to course-correct.
5) RE-MOTIVATE YOURSELF EVERY DAY. Perseverance helps you stay motivated. Write down your goals, visualize the end result and do affirmations everyday. Constantly remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing.
Follow these 5 strategies, develop the attitude of perseverance and you will give yourself a monumental edge to achieve your grandest goals.
James Mapes is the founder of Quantum Leap Thinking™, creator of The Transformational Coach™, expert on the psychology of “applied imagination,” best-selling author, highly acclaimed business speaker, consultant, seminar leader and personal excellence coach.