Recently I’ve been thinking about the power of perseverance. It’s quite remarkable what happens when you don’t give up. A good percentage of success is left to whoever can stick it out the longest.
Now, that’s not to say that there’s not a time to call it. Like Willie Nelson says “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,” but that’s not what I’m talking about today.
I’ve come to realize how much perseverance contributes to success. Stick-to-itiveness, as Thomas Edison calls it, is essential to achieving anything worthwhile.
A good example of this is how I got to be a 5th degree black belt. Someone asked me once how I did it, and after thinking about it, I answered “I just kept showing up.”
Simple, but not easy. I showed up when I was tired, bruised. Hell, I even showed up broken!
I broke my wrist just after moving to NYC and couldn’t wait to start my Taekwon-Do training again. GM Kim eventually allowed it. I was in class when the instructor leading warm up called for push-ups. I figured I’d be excused because of my injury, so I sat back on my heels, which was the most respectful thing I could think of at the time. GM Kim looked in and called out “one-handed push-ups!” I asked “Sir?” He said “You heard me.” “Yes, sir!” And then I proceeded to figure out how to do one-handed push-ups for the first, and not the last time.
Perseverance is one of the tenets of Taekwon-Do (The rest are Courtesy, Integrity, Self-Control, and Indomitable Spirit.) and Grandmaster Kim illustrated the perseverance it takes to become a black belt by asking us to recall how many people were white belts with us when we first started our training and how many were still training now. How many people tested for (first degree) black belt with us and how many of those reached second degree, and so on. In my case, as for most, there were none. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to train myself in stick-to-itiveness for nearly 20 years and credit it for my ability to produce results.
It’s tempting to give up, to quit early, to call it a day while there’s still day left. That’s normal and will give you normal results. But if you want the good stuff, you have to persevere. Push through that time when you’re tired and wanna quit. I can empathize. Starting a new business (or anything new) is rife with opportunities to practice perseverance. There’s some task in front of you that is taking way too long. It involves way too much detail. You’ve worked on it long and hard and it’s still not done. The thought crosses your mind to put it away and try again tomorrow. Don’t do it! Tomorrow will come with it’s own challenges and you’ve already done the heavy lifting on this project, haven’t you? Persevere. Push through. Sure, take a break, breathe. Refocus yourself on your goal and get it done. You’ll thank yourself in the end, not just for getting it done, but who you got to be in doing it.
And don’t kill yourself. “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” -Confucius