Persistence creates the power to do with ease what we once found difficult and even ‘impossible’. It can give us the greatest hope we have of achieving success. Persistence can produce amazing results in many fields of human activity even when the situation seems hopeless.
After a bout of ‘flu in early 2006, I started to exercise again. At first, I struggled to do even 20 sit ups; then I reached 30 and so on. So long as I persisted, the number of sit ups increased and seemed much easier to do.
Ralph Waldo Emerson explains why: “That which we persist in doing becomes easy to do; not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”
Most things are difficult to do at first and remain difficult if we give up too soon. When I tried water skiing in the warm water off the South of France, I nose dived into the water and was dragged along like a plank of submerged wood instead of rising majestically on to the surface of the waves like most other people.
The ‘other people’ included a bunch of naïve teenagers from the school I was teaching at. They seemed to find no problem in staying above water!
But I only tried water skiing once. The cold water off the coast of the UK does not encourage water skiing unless you are very keen. It is not surprising that I am not a water skier after my one and only attempt in the Mediterranean.
The great inventor, Edison, sums up the problem:
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
If you persist in reading articles and books you will come across inspiring treasures like the words of Edison. It is easy to think that we have read everything of importance that there is to be read. Only persistent reading will reveal new and powerful ideas.
Reading will also remind us of the power of persistence in one biography after another. History is full of persistent failures in apparently hopeless situations who later achieved some kind of success or who even became acknowledged as geniuses.
In 1936, Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was on a ship to Europe. The rhythm of the engines inspired a nonsense poem that became the storyline for the book ‘And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street.’
The book was rejected by the first 27 publishers he showed it to. Most people would give up after the first 2 or 3 rejections. Eventually, in 1937, a friend published the book for him, and it had some success.
Geisel died in 1991. By that time his books had sold more than 200 million copies in 15 languages. Since his death another 22 million books of his have sold.
All over the world children love the weird characters of Dr. Seuss. Geisel’s persistence in writing, in spite of early rejection, had paid off.
Like Geisel, J.K Rowling, a divorced mother, was first inspired by her idea for a children’s book when she was traveling.
J.K Rowling had a small daughter to support as well as herself. She was forced to live on benefit or public assistance. However, she kept on writing and would do much of this in the coffee houses of Edinburgh where she could keep warm.
She kept working little by little at the story of Harry Potter for years. She didn’t think many people would like her story and never thought much past getting the story published.
She commented “I just wrote the sort of thing I liked reading when I was younger.”
Several publishers turned down the first finished manuscript before one took interest.
By 2004, Rowling had become a billionaire. Millions of children and adults were queuing up to buy her books. Her steady persistence had turned her writing into her own Aladdin’s lamp. Harry Potter’s magical powers cannot compare with the magical power of his creator’s persistence.
After her success she said: “It was wonderful enough just to be published. The greatest reward is the enthusiasm of the readers.”
One of her greatest achievements was in causing youngsters and their parents to leave the TV alone for a while as they devoured the latest Harry Potter novel. She has helped millions to discover or rediscover the joy of reading.
Persistent reading can also give us the power of an expert. Earl Nightingale said that one hour per day of study could put you at the top of your field within three years. 2 extra years would make you a national authority and 4 extra years would make you a world authority.
Brian Tracy writes (after quoting Nightingale):
“If you read one hour per day in your field, that will translate into about one book per week. One book per week translates into about 50 books per year. 50 books per year will translate into about 500 books over the next ten years.”
This all sounds almost too simple; but the simplest ideas are often the most workable and effective.
Examples of the power of persistence in the face of disappointment and difficulty can be found everywhere.
I am currently enjoying watching the group stage of the 2006 World Cup Football in Germany. I haven’t made the effort to go to Germany. TV is fine with me!
On June 17th, the USA held out with 9 men against the 10 men of Italy and succeeded in achieving a very creditable draw. 3 players had been given the red card (sent off) and two of these were Americans.
It would have been easy to give up but the USA persisted to the end with only 9 players and now have a chance of moving on into the knockout phase of the competition.
On June 18th, South Korea played a French team which included legendary players like Zinadine Zidane and Thierry Henry. France scored a goal early on and looked as if they were in total control of the game. The South Koreans appeared to be in a hopeless situation.
However, the Koreans persisted in trying to score a goal anyway. They failed again and again but maintained their enthusiasm. Winston Churchill once commented:
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”
Ian Wright, another English commentator, exclaimed:
“They just never gave up; they just kept going, kept going and they got something in the end. They got something. I can’t believe they got something!”
The Koreans in the crowd also kept going. Even when their team looked destined to lose, they kept singing, dancing, waving and cheering their players on.
The martial art, Choikwangdo, which I teach was founded and is run by a Korean Grand Master called Kwang Jo Choi. The motto of Choikwangdo is “Pilsung”. Pilsung means “Certain Victory – If You Keep Trying.”
The South Koreans were a great example of this motto. They kept trying and kept running in the hot summer air in Germany. As one commentator remarked. “At least they are getting bodies in the box (the area near the goal) and having a go.” In the end they achieved their goal through the sheer power of persistence.
Persistence then allows us to do things with ease which we once found difficult. Of course, if we don’t persist, we will never find this out. I still don’t know whether I might have become a water skier who could stay on top of the water instead of a hopeless underwater surfer!
Persistent reading will allow us to discover the treasures of wisdom which we would otherwise be without. It will also provide us with great examples of persistence to follow.
Persistent writing might help a hopeless unknown produce a literary master piece or best seller or a published book. Any one with enough persistence to keep writing to the bitter end can now write and publish their own ebooks.
Persistent study in their own field for just one hour a day over a period of three years can turn an ignoramus into an expert.
Persistence in a world cup competition can turn hopeless failure into victory and bring joy and pride to the hearts of an entire nation. This can last for years.
In England, we still remember with delight the world cup competition of 1966 when we beat Germany in the final and won the cup! Normally, England play Germany and Germany wins!
Daily persistence can add the gold dust of magic to almost any activity we undertake. It can make us powerful and successful. It can even help us make a difference to the human race.
If you are in what seems to be a hopeless situation keep trying and keep going anyway. Who knows what magical changes persistence may bring?