Persistence :The Key To Success

The best definition of persistence, I have read, is by Newt Gingrich, who says persistence is “the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.”

So if you say that you have done everything and are tired now, then per above definition something more you do now, is persistence. Similar to when we say, “Go the extra mile in whatever you do.” That extra mile is Persistence.

Defined in simple words, persistence is your ability to continue, in your quest, despite of lot many obstacles, hindrances and all types of challenges. 

Sri Chinmoy said, “Not to give up under any circumstances should be the motto of our life. I will try again and again and I am bound to succeed. There will be obstacles but I have to defy the obstacles”.

Keep moving towards your goals. Take daily constant action. Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “We must sail sometimes with the Wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail”. 

Tom Watson, IBM founder once said, “If you want to succeed double your failure rate.”

Majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard and give up at the first sign of failure. The primary reason for success is persistence, and likewise, the primary reason for failure is lack of persistence – quitting too soon.

Passionate goal-setters know to swim like sharks – if sharks try to float they will sink. So keep swimming towards your goals or you will sink like sharks. If you fall then get up, dust yourself off and move on. Keep on stirring your dreams. Persistence is self-discipline in action. Your ability to persist in the face of all setbacks and temporary failures is essential to success in life.

The quality of persistence is to the character of man what carbon is to steel. The quality of persistence alone is your insurance against failure. Before you start doing anything new say, “I never quit”  and when you fail to remind yourself that this is testing time.

The two things: Luck and persistence decide if you’re successful in anything but you don’t necessarily need both of them! You can work your ass off, be super lucky or just have a combination of them. Actually the harder you work the luckier you get.

“I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work the more of it I seem to have.”

Coleman Cox

You just make your luck happen through being persistent. The reason how badly you want something gives you strength to persevere. When all others give up and settle, you go on because you feel like there is no other option for you. Just visualize this:

Whenever you want to give up anything, imagine about those people who would shamelessly persist and actually get it. That’s how life works. Persistence always wins.

The persistent people are so determined that if you close the door to them they will come through the window. That’s the mindset! Everything happens in its own time; you could just work and wait for things to happen. That’s why it is said, “Man proposes, God disposes.”  You don’t know what’s going to happen the next day but only this hope, that it will happen, will keep you determined on the track.

Law of persistence

This law says,” If you keep trying, you will succeed.” Ability to persist is what makes people succeed. How many times did you stop trying after the first failure?

Success never comes after the first attempt. Whatever your goal is, there will be obstacles on your way to success. They are part of the process. Expect them. Learn from them and adapt.

Walt Disney was turned down 302 times before he got financing for his dream of creating the “Happiest Place on Earth.”  Colonel Sanders spent two years driving across the United States looking for restaurants to buy his chicken recipe. He was turned down 1,009 times!

Success lies in a person’s willingness to make relentless, step-by-step efforts. Without failure, there is no learning or improvement. Failure should be seen as a stepping stone to success. Each time you fail, you learn what not to do, and this brings you closer and closer to finding the right key. Without failure, there can be no success.

So go out there and start trying. Fail or succeed; it doesn’t matter. Both of them will get you where you want to be.

One is not finished when one is defeated, but one is finished when one quits. You keep on knocking.

What President Calvin Coolidge said,” nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; the world is full of unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

See the past report card of a successful personality:

A man failed in business at 21

Defeated in a legislative race at 22

Failed again in business at 24

His sweetheart died when he was 26

He had a nervous breakdown at 27

Lost a congressional race at 34

Lost another one at 36

Lost a senatorial race at 45

Failed to become Vice President at 47

Lost senatorial race at 49

And at 52 was elected as president of the USA. He was

Abraham Lincoln.

Had he quit in the life he would not have been president of the USA. It is an attitude only.

What we call failures, are no failures, these are only results which we have created by our work. If the results are good, it means we were on the right track, and if the results are not good, it means we were on the wrong track, and we need to correct our path.

In 1878, Thomas Edison was not the only person experimenting with incandescent lights, but he was the single man willing to test six thousand different filaments–including one made from the hair of one of his men – for his light bulbs.

When he failed about 10000 times in finding the right filament for the invention of the light bulb, he confessed that 9999 times he was not on the right track. His 9999 attempts were not the ways for inventing the lamp, but these were necessary to reach that only one way, the 10000th way.

It is said that if Edison needed to find a needle in a haystack, he would do that also and start examining straw after straw until he found the needle in it. Now the important word in the last line is, “until he found the needle in it.” Which means it is not over until you win. If anybody has this level of persistence, he is bound to succeed in anything he does.

The genius of such people is not their education or resources but the unity of purpose, deafness to doubt and failure and their desire to stay at it. This method may not be scientific or proper, but then it works. When you have to sell something, then intelligence and scientific methods are of no use, only knocking on enough doors until you make the sale is the only way.

Persist and resist are such two powerful words for anybody. I call them P&R. Persist in your efforts and resist quitting. If a football player knows he has to play all the way to the whistle, why should he bother about the clock? He should play until it is not over.

The setbacks on the road to success are the bumps on the road that you have to travel all the way down. When you do something new, it is definitely going to be filled with problems because the path is new and unattended.

You may get discouraged, but quitting is not an option here. Edison used to say, “the first step is an intuition, but then difficulties arise.” It also happens with us that we start doing many things but then as the difficulties crop in, we throw in the towel. Stop looking for angels and start looking for angles. Yesterday’s failure gives us experience for today’s success. One should use this experience to avert further failure.

Chinese bamboo tree

 A Chinese bamboo tree grows really tall—to a height of over eighty feet. It takes around five years and three months to grow to its full height. But here’s the interesting bit. For the first five years after you plant the seed, you see nothing. Absolutely nothing. Except perhaps a little shoot springing out of the bulb and struggling to make a squiggle.

And then, in the next ninety days, it shoots up to a towering eighty feet.

Can you believe it? For the first five years, all the growth is invisible, below the surface. The Chinese bamboo roots create a complex network, like a miniature version of a network underground. It is these strong roots that, when fully developed, help support a tree that will soar above all else.

And in the next ninety days—yes, merely ninety days—it literally takes off. And becomes as tall as an eight-storeyed building.

In this era of instant coffee and fast food, of get-rich-quick Ponzi schemes and lose-weight-quicker regimens, we all need to pause and take a lesson from the Chinese bamboo. Patience has its reward. Nothing of substance happens in a hurry. All too often, forgetting delayed gratification, we are unprepared to wait for the pay-off and tend to settle for shorter stunted bonsai trees.

Having sown the seed and having initiated something, when we don’t see results, we get impatient. We keep pulling out the sapling to check if the roots are growing. As leaders and bosses, we tend to be impatient for results. And too often, we rush to reward the mushrooms that spring up after one spectacular rainy night (and wither away soon after)—only because we can see them! Long-term, sustainable success takes time.

Every major achievement is almost always preceded by years of toil, hard work, failure, stress, test of character, determination, sleepless nights, families sacrifices for your success and your faith in your God. When all these things grow inside you, you are ready for that, chinese bamboo tree like, take off.  All of which help form the network of roots in the foundation that can then support massive real accomplishments, visible to everybody. And that multi storied success.

So the next time you feel frustrated by lack of results and want to give up, don’t. Think of the Chinese bamboo tree. When you feel the world is unjust and is refusing to recognize your hard work and your commitment, don’t panic. Five years of subterranean activity will almost always be followed by three months of meteoric rise. The law of compensation is inexorable and infallible; it will work for you also. Keep on doing your part.

The Power of Persistence 

We think that only the super-talented people make it big in this world — but nothing could be further from the truth.  For every super-talented successful person, like Michael Jordan, there are thousands of successful people who made it on sheer guts, determination, and persistence.

Colonel Sanders didn’t even start his world-wide enterprise until he retired from the railroad.  When he was over 60 he started shopping his secret chicken recipe to restaurants all over the South. 

For months on he drove thousands of miles, stopping at every roadside restaurant along the way, to see if the owner would buy his chicken recipe.  More often than not, Sanders ended up sleeping in his car because he couldn’t afford a motel room.  All in all, Colonel Sanders was rejected by nearly 1009 places before a kind restaurant owner took pity on him and allowed him to demonstrate his process.

Today there are thousands of Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises in hundreds of countries all over the world.  You can’t tell the reason, Colonel Sanders became a household name, because he was the best cook in the world. Neither he was the most brilliant businessman in the world. If he had been, he would have owned the railroad that employed him as a laborer for 40-plus years. But he was, without a doubt, one of the most persistent people in the world.  And it was persistence, not talent that took him to the top of his profession.  

A wise man once remarked, “Perseverance is not a long race.  It is many short races one after the other.”  Think about it. In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins.  Why?  As Shakespeare put it, “Much rain wears down the marble.” The simple truth of the matter is that consistent, persistent efforts will always triumph in the end. 

The Persistence of water

We all know a grinding wheel is made up of thousands of abrasive grains. The grain size or grit number of the abrasive grains used decides whether it is: coarse, medium, fine or very fine. If the grit number is large say 500, the size of the abrasive is very fine and it removes material very slowly like in polishing and a small grit number say 50 indicates a large grain of abrasive which removes material very fast.

Water wears down rocks by abrasion on riverbeds and along shorelines by repeated strikes. The water acts as a grinding stone of very fine grit when it strikes a hard surface, repeatedly, it wears down the surface in each stroke, but so little that it is invisible to the human eye. If kept striking a rock for a long time, it makes marks on it also. 

You should also be like water–a grinding stone with so fine grit that it is invisible to the eye of failure. But over a time, if applied to an opportunity, remove the failure particles from the surface of opportunity and uncover the success inside. 

More you strike on your opportunity with persistence earlier you uncover the success. So when you fail, assume you are actually removing the layer of failure particles from you. Talent does not matter here, but tenacity, resilience and persistence matters here. 

The Popcorn King

It took Orville Redenbacher more than 20 years and 30,000 popcorn hybrids before he was able to develop fluffier, tastier popcorn which we all love today to munch. It wasn’t luck that made Redenbacher a success.  And it wasn’t working really hard for only a month or even a year,  that made the difference it was persistent action over time that turned Redenbacher from a manager of a popcorn farm into a multimillionaire!    

Never Give Up 

There’s a Chinese folktale that perfectly illustrates the importance of persistence.  In the folktale, a holy man has a dream in which he is taken by the angels to visit heaven.  As the angels escort the man through the heavenly mansion, they pass a huge room stacked from wall to ceiling with gifts.  The holy man stops and stares into the room, dazzled by the variety and beauty of the millions of presents.  “Why are all these lovely presents stacked up in this room?” the holy man asks the angels.  A beautiful young angel steps forward and with a sad sigh explains, “This is the room where we store the things people have been praying for, but, sadly, they quit praying right before their presents were to be delivered.”

This world is full of such people who dreamt of something, and that thing was made to order and kept in above store of the God, under supervision of angels. But before it could be delivered, those people called it quits and left their dream undelivered to them.

To succeed you should have long term focus. Success and failure are not overnight stories. Remember “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” Everything in this world takes time in building. Big businesses, relationship, finest products, services, and even careers take a lot of time in creation and nurturing. If you write a book it takes a lot of time in research and writing.

Athletes don’t win an Olympic gold medal with a few weeks of practice and training. There is no magic formula for success. Norman Vincent Peale used to say, “When God wants to send you a gift, he wraps it up in a problem. The bigger the gift that God wants to send you, the bigger the problem he wraps it up in.” Instead of concentrating on the problem, look for the gift. Wonderfully enough, you will always find it. What’s more, sometimes the gift, or valuable lesson, can be of far greater value than the cost of the problem itself.

Sometimes, the lesson you learn while dealing with a problem can be the key to your success. As Napoleon Hill wrote, “Within every problem or obstacle lays the seed of an equal or greater opportunity or benefit. Your job is to find it.”   

Persistence pays in life, sports, and your career

Winston Churchill once visited a school, where the kids asked him the secret of success in life. His reply: ‘Just seven words …‘Never give up. Never, never give up!

Often, after years of hard work when we are perhaps just a step away from success, we quit & walk away. Trouble is, we seldom know that we are only a step away– just a step away– from realizing our dreams.

Turning away to changing the rabbit seems the more attractive option. We see the grass on the other side greener. And we rationalize our failures with excuses.

We all hear stories of talented people who gave up before their potential was realized, and people who changed jobs and careers when success seemed elusive.

The next time you are staring at possible failure or rejection, remember this: If you don’t give up; if you believe in yourself; if you stay the course; success will adore you.  

A man overheard an aged Irishman giving some advice to a boy who was boarding a ship to seek his fortune. “Now, Michael, my boy,” the old man said, “just remember the three bones and you’ll get along all right.” The curiosity of the bystander prompted him to ask the Irishman what he meant by the three bones. “Sure, now,” replied the aged son of Erin with a twinkle in his eye, “and wouldn’t it be the wishbone, the jawbone, and the backbone? It’s the wishbone that keeps you going after things. It’s the jawbone that helps you ask the questions that are necessary to finding them, and it’s the backbone that keeps you at it until you get them!” 

To find the happiness which comes through making the most of our abilities, we must persevere in using them and make them responsive to our bidding. Persistent effort often spells the difference between success and failure. As in splitting a log, in which all former axe strokes are wasted if we do not keep at it until we strike the last blow. 

So we waste our energies unless we demonstrate the tenacity to endure until the walls of difficulty crumble and our abilities come into their own. Certainly little of lasting worth ever has been accomplished except by those who have dared to persist in the face of frowning circumstances. Something within them was superior to the obstacles they encountered.