“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”― Samuel Johnson
I have often wondered what was the difference between people who give in and give up and those who reach their personal goals and go far beyond the expectations of the world.
Why do some people live lives that do not live up to their own dreams and aspirations and then feel bad about it afterwards while some people just seize the moment and go for their dreams and more importantly stick with them?
While the definition of success may be relative and mean different things for different people, there are habitual patterns in people that give clues to how their life will eventually turn out regardless of what they pursue.
Have you seen these patterns before?
Threads of incompletion in a majority of projects.
A lack of definite purpose and a sense of direction.
Evasive techniques such as a lot of complaining, blame, and bitterness.
Scathing criticism of things even before they are allowed to bloom.
Habits that do not support success.
A lack of commitment and responsibility towards major goals.
Inability to focus on something for more than a few months.
Refusal to follow through on passions and things that matter.
Giving up under the burden of setbacks and difficulties.
Now, we may have all had some or all of the above at some times of our lives or another and I certainly do not present the list to judge or criticize our weaknesses.
Perseverance does not also mean to spin your wheels when something just does not work out.
You may have to do something different and take a new approach if things are continually resistant to working out.
However, it is my intention to shine the light of awareness on some of the patterns and the lack of perseverance that wreaks havoc in our lives.
Hopefully, with some enhanced awareness and inspiration, we can all put to rest some of those patterns in the lack of perseverance in our lives.
Whether it is that next creative project or something that you would love to complete, here are a few suggestions to super charge your power of perseverance.
Let us begin:
1. The Amazing Power Of Yes
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”― Richard Branson
While you do not have to be a habitual “yes person,” are you saying “no” to all the great opportunities and the potential hope and relief in your life?
What dominates your attention and your life? A deep sense of negativity and cynicism or an implicit understanding of hope and possibility.
While this may sound trivial, do not underestimate the power of negativity and negative people as a downer to your power of perseverance.
Psychology research has shown repeatedly the power and efficacy of negativity and the negativity bias that our brains are seemingly wired towards.
Much as a peak performance coach would not demand anything but the best from her athletes, so should you not expect anything less from the company you keep.
If people are discouraging you and putting you down, choose different company.
If your brain is doling out the negativity to you, stop listening and begin by replacing with thoughts and feelings that facilitate perseverance and not destroy it.
“In the space between yes and no, there is a lifetime. It’s the difference between the path you walk and one you leave behind; it’s the gap between who you thought you could be and who you really are.”― Jodi Picoult
2. Belief That Something Is Impossible To Do And To Complete
“It always seems impossible until its done.”-Nelson Mandela
Do you have a very deep and irrevocable idea that things are just quite impossible to accomplish and great success is only for others?
Time to lay that belief to rest for good. Every great person including Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela knew that what they were up against was seemingly impossible. However, they did not dwell their attention on how it was impossible and could not be done.
Instead, they went on towards their greatest aspirations and dreams till the sun broke through the clouds of despair and the light shone its way inside.
Do you have an “it is impossible” attitude towards your goals and desires?
Become aware that “impossibility mindset” destroys and reverses any sign of perseverance before it can take flight. [Tweet this!]
3. Do You Stay With Your Problems?
“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”-Albert Einstein
This is unquestionably one secret that all highly creative and successful people share with each other. They allow the single-minded pursuit of the skill that they want to master.
They then practice at the edge of their comfort level by slowly but surely honing their skills. They practice every sequence, every stroke, every note till they have acquired mastery in their realm.
Creativity expert Ken Robinson gives the example of Paul McCartney and George Harrison who were in the same class together in Liverpool in the 1950’s.
McCartney hated music at school and went through his entire education with no one recognizing his musical genius. Harrison was thought to have no talent at school either.
Yet they practiced away in clubs in Germany and the UK much before the Beatles became a runaway and “instant success.”
Sure the case can be made that no matter how much deep practice some people put in, they will never be a Jimi Hendrix or a
Charlotte Brontë or a John Lennon and that may be true.
However, there may be no great people who did not put in a lot of work and persevere till they became fluid and masterful in their arts.
Do you allow yourself to persevere and develop your skills before giving up on the problem?
4. The Role Of Anxiety In Perseverance
“If you are going through hell, keep going.” ― Winston Churchill
This is by far the most important element of continuous perseverance.
It is as if we have been wired with the famous flight and fight response when things go too badly or even if they go too well.
And we freak out when things go very wrong or if we become successful beyond our wildest dreams. We suffer from the upper limit problem or confining our genius and happiness within pre-set limits as described by Gay Hendricks in The Big Leap.
Perseverance and the perceived lack of results is enough to set in a deep level of anxiety that things are not working. Alternatively, if things do work out, the change itself is enough to provoke an anxiety deep enough to rethink the act of persevering.
If you are not used to persevere beyond a certain length, the passion, strong feelings and the continuity might just make you feel very unsettled and the discomfort experienced may beg you to quit.
But when you feel the discomfort of being in a completely new territory of practice with your skills, you need to still go beyond that barrier. There is no limit to the extent and limit to the fluidity and flow that you can achieve.
5. The Experience Of Coming Out At The Other End
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ― Maya Angelou
One of the major reasons to stick with something despite all the odds is the experience that you will gather in the process.
Often, you may make the rationalization that something is not of great value to you but in reality, you are learning invaluable skills if you stick with it.
In hindsight, things and skills that do not beg the attention of your perseverance and completion may prove to be very valuable.
6. Taking Very Small Steps Is Better Than Taking No steps
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”― Confucius
Often people think that change should happen in huge leaps and measurable change. While this happens sometimes, you should not feel discouraged by the apparent lack of progress.
One of the biggest threats to perseverance is the lack of results and the subsequent quitting while it is still too soon to see any results.
A better option is to take very small steps and keep at it instead of taking a giant leap and then quitting.
You also risk the potential of burnout if you go all out and then quickly lose interest. You may need to dive deep into the core of why you are doing something and keep that intention steadfast in your attention.
In other words, small steps are highly effective and perhaps the best way to maintain perseverance over long periods of time.
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”― Confucius
7. Face Those Fears And Affirm Those Commitments
“The best way out is always through.”- Robert Frost
There is nothing that sparks the fear process faster than commitment to a long-term project in some people.
The problem with those long-term fears is that they appear in your next project and then the next. It is almost that they get emboldened by the lack of perseverance.
However, the converse is also true. Once, you allow the fears to be there and act in spite of them, you demonstrate to yourself that you have the ability to transcend fears in any setting.
Fear to persevere is a very common fear and the sooner you acknowledge it, take a deep breath and begin moving along, the better it is for your goals.
Our brains make sense of the world though self-evidence and through social proof. If incompletions become habitual, it becomes very difficult to believe and convince your deep inner self and your conscious brain that you have what it takes to complete something.
The solution is to complete any incompletions in your life or to finally allow them to be released from your consciousness.
In my yester years, I was all set out to become a professional tennis player but unfortunately that story did not turn out as I planned. I gave up on playing the game but saved my old tennis gear if I ever took up the sport again.
However, whenever I saw the gear, it only reminded me of my incompletions and undermined my belief in myself to persevere in other projects. There was always a wistful sense of “if only I did this…or that.”
So one day several years before, I lovingly looked at my gear for one last time and in a deep sense of gratitude donated them to the local Goodwill store and allowed myself to release the threads of incompletion.
“Storms make trees take deeper roots.”- Dolly Parton
8. Make Failure And Setbacks Your Best Friends and Teachers
“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”― Samuel Beckett
The most difficult experience that you might come up against in your journey of perseverance is the idea of setbacks and failure and how to manage them.
Everyone wants to succeed quickly but failure is interwoven into the story of success and perseverance. [Tweetable right?]
In fact, you should not have it any other way. Failure teaches you how to adjust your sails to navigate the seas of uncertainty and do things differently.
If you change the meaning that you assign failure and setbacks, you will have much better success in perseverance. If you take failure and use it to your advantage, you can persevere the change of seasons without losing hope.
“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”-Julie Andrew
Diligence is the greatest of teachers.- Arabian Proverb
9. What About Will And Determination?
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.” ― Vince Lombardi
Motivation research has shown us that will power is exhaustible and we only possess a specific amount till it runs out and needs recharging. However, the will power that exhausts is the day-to-day kind that you will have to replenish through sleep and rest.
There is a greater will or determination that arises out of intrinsic motivation and a deep sense of connectedness to a great purpose that shines through unsuccessful moments and propels people forward.
It is this self-determination, the idea that what you are pursuing is really worth it that fuels success. [I will not mind at all if you tweet this too]
It is this long term will power and determination that allows you to pursue and persevere all situations.
To connect to this deep place of will, you will have to determine the underlying reasons why you want to do something and why you want to persevere.
When you can connect your goals to a higher purpose and something that invokes strong feelings of awe and wonder in you, you have a better chance at perseverance.
“To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. ‘I will drink the ocean,’ says the persevering soul, ‘at my will mountains will crumble up.’ Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard, and you will reach the goal.”- Swami Vivekananda
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr
10. Do Not Make Quitting A Habit
“Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give in. Don’t ever stop trying. Don’t ever sell out. And if you find yourself succumbing to one of the above for a brief moment, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, whisper a prayer, and start where you left off. But never, ever, ever give up.”- Richelle E. Goodrich
Defeat whispers into your ears frequently but if you have determined to follow the course and stay the length, pay no heed to it because its sounds only betray your deepest wishes.
The most important lesson you may learn on the path of perseverance is that the chances to quit will be plenty and the roads will diverge many times.
The choice is yours to make if your power of perseverance is greater than the sum of relief that defeat will provide.
Many times, staying the course is uncomfortable and scary and uncertain and you will want to quit. Always remember that no matter what happens, you should continue forward.
Even if it means taking a rest and repurposing your plan, you need to move forward.
Even if it means taking the assistance of others, you need to move forward.
Every success and journey of perseverance becomes a habit. Every act of quitting takes you closer to making it a habit of quitting.
“once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit” ― Vince Lombardi
11. Even The Worst Shall Pass
“So comes snow after fire, and even dragons have their endings.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Even though we all know this, it does not seem that way when you are in the middle of the storm.
Your world turns upside down and all you think of is a way out, an escape. Take a deep breath and settle in the understanding and awareness that nothing lasts forever.
How would your life look like in a year, in 5 years and in 10 years?
Would you still be concerned with the temporary storms that you are facing at the moment?
How would you feel if you gave a long-term plan and dream for temporary storms that will pass?
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”― Helen Keller
12. Set Up Structures And Make Perseverance Consistent and Habitual
“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”― Anthony Robbins
This is a very important question to ask yourself. You want to write but do not carve any writing time out. You want to work on a new business idea but you are too caught up with what is on television.
I grappled with the idea of time and focus for a while and then it struck me that my attention in the moment and the habits that I had cultivated were creating my future and allowing me to persevere or to quit.
Do your habits and structures support the idea that you want to persevere in your projects?
Do you consistently take habitual actions that allow you to persevere in the first place? It is a case of misplaced attention when you criticize yourself of lack of determination or perseverance when you have not cultivated any habits that allow you to stay the course.
Are you asking for the right support?
What are you doing with your time and what habits do you have?
What habits are sucking away all your time and energy that you may need to replace with in order to create habits that allow you to persevere?
For example, negative mind chatter that things will fail and there is no point trying bothered me for a while till I realized that this negative thinking was just a habit that my mind was engaging habitually.
This negative chatter would argue away the efforts placed into persevering. When I because aware of this problem, I replaced it with chatter that would encourage and inspire me to stay connected and persevere in my cause.
“Change is hardest at the beginning, messiest in the middle and best at the end.”― Robin S. Sharma
13. Perseverance Needs Extraordinary Courage
“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Perseverance is a true act of courage.
Staying the course in the face of uncertain outcomes is a leap of faith and an act of belief that requires exceptional courage.
Courage also does not mean that you rush into crises but may also mean the little voice of reason that allows you to continue day after day making adjustments and moving forward.
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”― Mary Anne Radmacher
14. Gather Some Social Proof
“…remember that what has once been done may be done again.”― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
On the journey of perseverance, it may be highly beneficial to provide yourself social proof along the way.
Even though what you might be attempting might be novel, there have been people like you who have attempted similar things and perhaps with even more adversity.
Giving yourself the social proof that it can be done keeps you inspired when the going gets tough.
And you might even seek the wise counsel of supportive people who have attempted something like what you are doing and have been successful at it. They might even give you some vital tips and ideas that you can implement to stay the course.
Doing everything all by yourself and not seeking social assistance is very difficult especially in the long haul and you might just feel isolated enough and give up.
If you are not connecting and seeking assistance, you need to ask yourself what issues you have with asking others for direction and involving them in your plans.
However be cautioned that do not seek the counsel of the first person who decides to listen to you because it is very easy to get carried away in other people’s anxieties and criticisms.
15. Having Faith And A Great Attitude
“A few fly bites cannot stop a spirited horse.”― Mark Twain
In order to persevere, you need to develop a deep and unflinching sense of hope and belief in your abilities and the idea that you will succeed and persevere.
It is this belief when on a shaky foundation that makes people give up and give in even though they might be close to victory.
If you can develop an attitude of overwhelming optimism and hope regardless of the course of the journey, you have a much better chance at perseverance.
“Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”― Winston Churchill
If you develop a great spirited attitude that emanates from within you and not just a front or facade, you have already half won the perseverance battle.
“The doing of something productive regardless of the outcome is an act of faith. The doing of a small something when a large something is too much for us is perhaps especially an act of faith. Faith means going forward by whatever means we can.”― Julia Cameron, Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance
16. DO You Think That Talent Is More Important?
“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.”- Calvin Coolidge
You may have been programmed to believe that talent and genius are more important than staying the course. However, deeply intertwined in every story of personal talent and genius is the thread of perseverance and determination.
Without perseverance, genius is lost and talent is easily wasted. [Tweet this!]
Have you seen stories of people who you thought would conquer mountains because of their intellect and their boundless talents?
Have you not been astonished to find that after decades, it was not them, the talented ones but the ones that worked hard and had little talent that rose to heights that were enviable?
“With ordinary talent and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable”― Thomas Fowell Buxton
“I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.”- John D. Rockefeller
17. Continually Apply What You Learn
“An ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction.” – Booker T Washington
And finally to make your journey of perseverance interesting and relevant, continually apply what you learn along the way. This makes the journey very rich and transforms it into an adventure.
This adventure of perseverance will light up your life and your path and show the way to countless others who will strive to follow your example.
To live is not to learn, but to apply.–Legouvé
Now over to you, awesome readers! What are your experiences with perseverance and which idea did you like best and why? Leave your comments below; you know that I love to hear from you!
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