All those runners with persistence! All those persistent people. I watched the highlights of the London marathon yesterday and wished I was there, I love the event and have run it many times before. All those thousands of runners, that all trained and trained and then ran and ran. They had to be persistent, they had to have persistence to get to the start line, let alone finish the race. Persistence is my topic today.
Persistence is an essential skill in your personal and professional life, since any major goal (and successful accomplishment of that goal) is bound to encounter an obstacle or two along the way. If these obstacles prevent us from achieving our goals, we might start referring to them as failures.
“No great achievement is possible without persistent work” – Bertrand Russell
When I first started my own business, I remember the local business link course that I attended for free telling me that 95% of businesses failed within 3 years. Last year, a Bloomberg study revealed that nowadays 80% of businesses fail within 18 months! We don’t know that so many businesses do definitely fail, or that so many give up within 18 months. I think many people get close, but do not persist enough, they are not prepared to do the ‘grind’ as motivational speaker Eric Thomas would refer to it.
For anything to become a success, persistence is essential. We’ve heard all the motivational tales about persistence of historical figures, haven’t we? People who just would not give up.
In fact, nearly every successful person in history has displayed incredible persistence. Thomas Edison famously made 10,000 prototypes (though it may have been anything from 1000, to 20 million according to the variety of ways I’ve heard his story told) before making the first light bulb. Nelson Mandela campaigned for 50 years including 27 years in prison before finally freeing his country. Arianna Huffington struggled in writing for decades before finally the Huffington Post became a best-selling news website. Many famous figures of varying backgrounds, from Abraham Lincoln to Colonel Sanders, all were fine examples of being brilliantly persistent.
We remember these people for changing the world, freeing their country or creating a delicioud chicken flavouring! We rarely associate them first and foremost with being persistent.
Studies have even proven that in some cases persistence alone can be the sole driver of performance. A recent piece of research shows that students achieved exactly the same scores whether they were taught online or by highly qualified teachers as long as they persisted in completing the course! Persistence is one of the main things that can overcome and avert failure.
“The most interesting thing about a postage stamp is the persistence with which it sticks to its job” – Napoleon Hill.
Developing persistence is a master skill to success. It is easier to relax and do nothing, or just live in our comfort zone, rather than face the uncertainty and discomfort of sailing thru our goals. Plus, the idea of failure and hardship is unbearable. Earlier this year I wrote extensively about the value of and ways to step out of your comfort zone; if you wish to explore this further, then go and have a read:
a) Important Reasons to Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone.
b) 7 Steps To Leave Your Comfort Zone.
c) Self-Hypnosis To Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone.
Here are some of the things that persistent people have and do that keeps them going long after many people have given up:
The definiteness of purpose or knowing what one wants is the first and most important step in persistence. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know what our purpose is or what we want. You must be determined to find your purpose by the process of elimination. Focus on what you don’t want and move those items out of your life. Purpose by elimination. It narrows the playing field for what you do want.
Ideally, get a sense of purpose, with a sense of purpose your life is more meaningful, and you’ll also find it a lot easier to build momentum in your life if it is fueled with a foundation of purpose. Read this article to look at this in more detail:
a) What Is Your Life Purpose? 5 Ways To Discover It Today.
Every single person I have met with persistence and self-motivation in abundance have a sense of purpose about them. A sense of purpose connects with our sense of self in the most fundamental way. For some it is the core of who they are. For others it is the sense of what they value and believe. Once we discover a sense of purpose it enriches us at many levels.
An alternative way of looking at a sense of purpose is to say that it is a sense of meaningfulness, which informs and directs our actions, however large or small, and connects them easily to each other and to our future in a way that is congruent with who we are.
Having some kind of a vision and a sense of purpose is so useful. I am not necessarily saying that you all need to know what you want for the rest of your life, of course not, but that you give yourself a sense of purpose.
There is a notable difference between setting yourself goals to achieve and having a sense of purpose:
• The goals you set yourself have the potential to be achieved. Your purpose is not finite. Your purpose provides the fuel that drives us towards our goals and their achievement.
• Our goals can take us to places we don’t want if they do not have a well-formed outcome. It is very rare to be misled by a sense of purpose.
• The goals we set ourselves can often fail to live up to what we wanted. Having a sense of purpose always rewards you.
• Goals can create internal conflict. Like when we have a goal of wanting to stop smoking. We want to be healthier, but a part of us likes the time we get to be by ourselves when we smoke. We can often want things in the short term which get in the way of our long term plans. Having a sense of purpose unites all of ourselves and remains harmonious throughout.
• All our goals exist in the future whereas your purpose is an expression of who you are and who you choose to be. It grows out of our past and relates to our present and future.
2. A Burning Desire:
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse” – Jim Rohn.
This is inter-related with point number one. Desire is important if you’re going to be persistent in pursuing the object of that desire. Again, if you don’t know what you desire, eliminate what you don’t like. Ask yourself these questions: Am I doing something I don’t want to do? Is there something I would rather do? Then, as they say, do more of what you love, less of what you tolerate, and none of what you really dislike.
Ask yourself; what am I passionate about? What pushes my buttons or turns me on? What is it about this that gets me so involved?
Ask that important question too: What does it do for me? Regardless of how unusual the answer to this may be, really take note of it and ask yourself “What does that do for me?” Keep on asking that question, “and what does that do for me?” until you cannot ask it anymore. What you are doing is asking what the passion and burning desire is behind it and you get more and more significant answers as you keep asking the question. When you get to the stage where you can’t ask the question any further, you have discovered the purpose behind your passion.
What did you love as a child? Is it still important to you? Again, ask yourself the previous questions to get your purpose behind that passion. Is that purpose still valid? Has it changed? Have you lost touch with it somehow?
You have to be self-reliant to some extent in order to be persistent. You must have belief in your ability to carry out your plan. If you don’t have the belief that you can, look for someone who can help you. Persistence and action often require help. Find someone who loves to do what you are not so keen to do. In my business, my partner Keith does the things he loves doing and that I am not so keen on, I then get to concentrate and focus on what is right for me and what energises me, and I am totally self-reliant with regards to those things.
Cooperation is important for persistence because like knowledge and self-reliance, you may need others to achieve your goals. You may also want to get an accountability partner. An accountability partner will make you answer to yourself, your most serious critic. Accountability partners will be able to make sure you’ve gone through all the items you said you were going to go through. Firm and organised plans will help you make progress. Knowledge is important, but, again, you can find someone who has the knowledge or skill set in an area you don’t.
5. Inner Confidence:
Much of the power of persistence stems from believing in yourself and believing that you can do whatever you set your mind to accomplish. Knowing that you won’t give up, no matter the odds against you, enhances your confidence level and quickly builds upon itself. Greater confidence will lead to greater persistence, allowing the cycle to continue indefinitely, ultimately leading to personal and professional success.
If you need to believe in yourself more, then these articles will help:
a) How To Believe In You – 9 and a bit Ways To Advance Self-Belief.
b) Believe in Yourself!
6. Commitment to Lifelong Learning:
Persistent people realise that any goal worth reaching will take time, effort and continuously learning new skills and thinking patterns. They welcome change and new ideas; looking for ways they can incorporate these into their lives. Ongoing learning is seen as part of a process through which they continually expand the range of tools that they have to work with. Naturally curious, persistent types not only see learning as a way to reach their goals more quickly, but see self-development as a way of life. For them, learning and continual growth do not end at a certain age or stage of life but are the essence of life itself, and therefore never ending. Never think that there is nothing more to learn.
7. Adjust and Adapt:
Persistent people have the ability to adjust and adapt their action plan. They do not stubbornly persist in the face of evidence that their plan is not working, but look for better ways that will increase their chances of success. They see their journey as a series of dead ends, detours and adjustments but have complete faith they will reach their final destination. They are not tied into their ego and are quickly willing to admit when something is not working. As well, they are quick to adapt the ideas of others that have been shown to work well.
Being solution focused and to relish life’s problems will serve you incredibly well in this respect, here are a couple of articles to help with that:
a) Learn To Enjoy Life’s Problems.
b) Apply Problem Solving To Yourself and Solve Your Own Problems.
8. Learning from Failure, and Overcoming Setbacks:
One of the most important results of persistence is developing the ability to learn and move on. Failures on various fronts in business and entrepreneurship are unavoidable, but persistence will teach a person to continue working on positive progress while improving upon previous setbacks. Entrepreneurs know that quitting is not an option for succeeding in the business world, nor is succumbing to one’s failures. Persistence is the fuel of forward motion.
Concentrating one’s thoughts upon their plan is willpower. Willpower is a crucial self-driver also enhanced by an accountability partner. Read these articles for more on how to boost your willpower:
a) 7 Evidence Based Ways To Boost Your Willpower Today.
b) 7 Ways To Be More Self-Disciplined.
Persistence builds upon your habits. Characteristics, such as those above, when coupled with action yield progress. If you perform daily actions fueled with the behaviours above, there’s a better chance that you will create success generating habits. Once you have incorporated these strategies into your life, go and use this wonderful self-hypnosis process to really advance your persistence: Be More Persistent: Using Self-Hypnosis To Increase Your Persistence.