“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.” ―Calvin Coolidge, 30th US President
Nothing happens in a day. it takes time to prepare a sumptuous supper. All great leaders have stories of failure to share. But their biggest life mantra has been to never give up and to keep trying, keep pushing. They achieved the unachievable with their imagination and persistence. Failures and setbacks did not prevent them from working towards their goals.
It is a myth that extraordinary people have achieved success because things worked in their favor or due to luck. Such notions are wrong and unfair. Extraordinary people stand out because they make things happen. They strive hard tirelessly to make things fall into place and to accomplish their goals. While ordinary people blame circumstances, extraordinary people work with what they have, and from where they are, to achieve success. John C. Maxwell once remarked, “Water boils at 212 degrees, but at 211 degrees, it is still just hot water. One extra degree, an increase of less than one-half of one percent, can make the difference between a pot of languishing liquid and a bubbling cauldron of power. One degree can create a full head of steam — enough power to move a train weighing tons. That one degree is usually momentum.”
Extraordinary people have that momentum. While ordinary people give up in desperation when water is heated to 211 degrees, extraordinary people invest more efforts beyond 211 degrees with persistence and achieve ultimate victory.
Here are some popular tips to cultivate persistence:
- Keep an eye on the long-term goal. Think about them. A constructive dream is capable of saving you from the frustrations of the present.
- Be focused and clear about “what you are here for”. Find out what makes you wake up from your bed in the morning. Be clear in your mind about what you want to achieve and become. Craft your vision accordingly. Be flexible and adaptable. Learn when to hold and when to fold. The first job of the teacher is to develop the learning attitude in her students. Once that happens, the rest follows.
- Work hard, smart and wise with discipline and dedication. Be consistent in your efforts. Strive hard relentlessly and take clues from the environment around. Move with the times. When the world has moved on with computers, a teacher cannot stick to just a pen and pencil anymore. She has to include in the pedagogy, the learning that is at par with others so her students are competitive.
- Cultivate the habit of writing because it not only helps you improve your writing skills but also enhances your persistence. Every teacher has a lesson plan and a child-development schedule where she plans and records the progress. When you feel that things are not working, a look at the plan will tell you that you did progress but you have to make more efforts to reach where you want to. That ushers hope and faith in the future.
- Try to predict the problems that you might face, based on problems that you have already faced.
Me and persistence
Perhaps like each one of us, I have encountered my share of hard times. Whenever I wanted to achieve something, there were obstacles. Success was never a cakewalk. In the year 2006, I purchased three plots with my hard-earned money in the outskirts of Hyderabad, India. It was a small amount. I invested in three plots in three different locations to sell them after a few years at a profit. A friend’s brother helped me purchase the plots. Unfortunately, all three plots were under litigation. In 2016, when I wanted to sell these plots to fund my younger son’s overseas education, I came to know that there was no land available physically for one of the plots.
I had been cheated. Even the other two plots had been sold to me under questionable conditions and finally, none of the plots were mine. Efforts to confront the culprit and get things sorted proved futile. I had to struggle for 9 months to raise funds for my son’s overseas education.
I hail from a lower middle-class family. I am rich in knowledge but poor in pocket. I had to struggle hard to sell these disputed properties. In India, courts usually take a lot of time to resolve disputes. I tried to negotiate with various people. I persisted for almost a year. Finally, I sold two plots at a loss and came out of the litigation. For the third plot, for which there is no land, I have tried hard to trace a seller. He is not available at the address mentioned in the documents. The issue remains unresolved even today. These hard times taught me not to trust anyone blindly.
However, I strongly believe that such hard times have given me the chance to practice perseverance and emerge stronger and wiser. Tough times don’t last but tough individuals do. They navigate through impossible times, holding a flashlight at the end of the tunnel.
Over to you!
Most leaders have failed many times but they have persisted to reach their tipping points. When you look at their biographies, it is obvious that they have an equally interesting flashbacks of failures and frustrations. Colin Powell observed, “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence.” Never give up just because you have failed a few times. It is often the last key in the bunch that will open the door to your success. Remember, persistence is the sibling of excellence. Write your own success story with persistence.