The Power of Perseverance
If someone asked me for one word that was the cornerstone of success, without hesitation, I would say perseverance. In the end, being great athletes, parents, leaders or anything else for that matter is really about a willingness to persist in the face of challenges (and yes, even tragedies), and to use those moments as a means to demonstrate our commitment and resolve.
To expect that any road you travel will be a cake walk is not only naïve and foolish, but is the fast track to failure. Not one of us is immune to the obstacles that life throws our way, but each of us does hold the power to choose what we do with whatever it is that lands in our lap.
So what about you….do you give up when times are tough? Or do you pause to assess the obstacle and determine if you are being challenged with a test, a lesson or an opportunity that can lead to your growth and fulfillment?
Let’s face it, we live in a society of instant gratification, and unfortunately it seems more and more people are treating their goals and dreams in this same manner. We want instant mastery, flawless performances and overnight success.
The truth is, our true character and potential are determined by how we deal with our obstacles. It is in these moments that we are required to step up or give up!
There’s a story I read a few years ago by an unknown author that describes what I’m saying here perfectly, so I thought I’d share it with you.
It’s called Shake It Off and Step Up.
Once upon a time there was a farmer who had an old mule that fell into a deep dry well and began to cry loudly. Hearing his mule cry, the farmer came over and assessed the situation. The well was deep and the mule was heavy. He knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to lift the animal out.
Because the mule was old and the well was dry, the farmer decided to bury the animal in the well. In this way he could solve two problems: put the old mule out of his misery and have his well filled.
He called his neighbors, and they went to work. Initially the old mule was frantic, but as the dirt kept hitting his back, the mule realized he could SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP! So blow by blow, each time a load hit his back, this is exactly what the mule did. No matter how painful the blows or distressing the situation, the old mule fought panic and just kept SHAKING IT OFF AND STEPPING UP!
Before long, the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly through the mouth of the well. What seemed like it would bury him, actually helped him….all because of how he handled the adversity.
What a great attitude, and what a great way to approach life! When faced with the inevitable adversity of life, SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP!
One of the things that saddens me most is to watch people dwell on their “problems” for weeks, let alone months or even years. Whether your problem is a physical or mental limitation, the loss of a loved one, an illness, an abusive upbringing, a natural disaster or a past mistake…..we ALL have our stuff. Every one of us has a choice: let it fester inside us and rob us of our health, happiness and prosperity or SHAKE IT OFF AND STEP UP.
When we can accept our adversities as a necessary part of our growth, we can start to see the gift of the situation and we can prevent being buried in the well! Sure sometimes I want to give up, but the number of times I’ve found success JUST beyond the moment where I truly felt stretched to the point I’d snap is truly astounding, so now I always know to persevere beyond what’s comfortable. Nobody ever achieves greatness by remaining comfortable!
The thing about perseverance is that it is available to all of us. As Calvin Coolidge so eloquently said, “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 bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you get there fast or get there slow, as long as you keep on going! Hold steadfast to your vision, your hopes, your dreams and your desires. Never stop and never give up! I don’t know who said this but I absolutely love it…. “when your dreams turn to dust, vacuum!”