Persistence is a Value that is Key for Success
Whether an inherent trait or a developed skill, persistence is absolutely vital for success. Generally, we don't know how long, how difficult, how uncomfortable becoming successful in our chosen field of endeavor is going to be. Therefore, persistently fighting for your dreams and goals in the face of what may appear to be overwhelming odds is a certainty that must be accepted.
One of the best examples most of us heard about as children is Thomas Edison's persistent pursuit of the electric light bulb through his supposedly 10,000 or so experimental attempts. There are a few very interesting facts for nerds like me about this pursuit. First, there were other people attempting this at the same time. Second, at that time someone had already developed a light bulb that lasted 13 hours but that was not long enough for commercial use. Third, Edison's constant attempts were simply to find an element that would continue to burn once the electricity hit the filament and this is where the difficulty existed. They had small successes along the way, but were trying to find something that would last an indefinite period for commercial use which was daunting. The persistence of Edison was in believing that they were on the right track; he believed that the answer was out there and they just needed to keep working and searching until they found it.
One of my other favorite stories concerns the Wright brothers in attempting powered flight, a feat that was deemed impossible by many people at the beginning of the 20th century. The brothers, Wilbur and Orville, were very systematic in their process. Believing manned flight was possible, one of the biggest challenges to overcome was the fact that much of the known information at the time, particularly concerning wing shapes and angle measurements, was incorrect. Consequently, they had to completely rethink all of the accepted data and determine all these things themselves.
The brothers persisted through all the unknown factors they needed to discover, as well as the inherent physical risks involved with the undertaking. Over a roughly 4 year period, they started with kites, moved to gliders, mastered control there and then added the engine and propellers. One of the most interesting things to me was that they actually had to invent propellers because the only known propellers at that time were for boats and the angles were not right for an airplane. Also, because gasoline engines were not that advanced during that time, they actually had to develop their own engine, powerful enough to turn the propellers but light enough so as not to create too much weight for their flying machine. Imagine doing something never done before and where there was a strong belief that it was impossible. The older I get, the more I stand in awe of their massive achievement. Heroes like these inspire us to realize that if we just believe and then persist regardless of obstacles, we can ultimately succeed.
I think the statement made by Davy Crockett is absolutely right on the mark, "Be always sure you're right - THEN GO AHEAD". I feel that the main key to any success I have experienced personally is to persist with relentless patience. It is kind of a funny way to think -- but we never know how long or hard the accomplishment of our dreams and goals will be, so by persisting with a relentless patience, you know you will stay in the game as long as it takes to win.
Please note that being relentlessly patient does not mean being locked in mentally to only one way or perspective. As Tom Hopkins says, "I never see failure as failure but only as the opportunity to change course in my direction." After 8 years and some decent success in my career, there came a point that I realized I was not going to accomplish my long-term goals at the first company I was with at that time. I knew that I had to face the uncertainty of change and venture out because the idea of being captive to a company was anathema to me. The solace for me was that I also realized that the founders of the company I was with had been with two other firms before they started the company that led to their success and it made sense for me to do the same. This can only occur, however, when you are focused on your goals with that relentlessness required to face reality and do whatever it takes morally and ethically to win. While changing where I built my business was required at the time, because of their business model and product limitations, I think there are probably more circumstances when the changes needed for success involve our own personal behavior and methods of conducting business.
It is likely that in most cases where you experienced some great success in your life, you wanted something so badly that you just kept trying and trying until you broke through to victory. That persistence in many cases can be the fundamental key to success. Most accomplishments in life do not come easily, and if you believe in your heart and soul that something is worth pursuing, pursue it with all the persistence and determination you can muster.
As former President Teddy Roosevelt once said: "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
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