Winners in the career chase know persistence is a daily necessity if they are to achieve their goals.
One of those big winners, Ted Turner, world-class sailor and founder of the CNN television network, explains his success by saying:a
“The secret of my success is that I never quit. Winners never quit, and quitters never win. You might go bankrupt, you might lose everything, but as long as you’re out there still dukin’ back, as long as you haven’t given up, you’re not beaten… a lot of battles in history were won in the eleventh hour. It might have looked like it was over. But the old saying is true: it’s never over ’til it’s over.”
In another age President Calvin Coolidge declared: “Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. 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.”
Winston Churchill, the great leader of the free world in World War II, explained that he overcame a multitude of defeats in his career by living out his credo of “Never, never, never, never give up.”
Marathon runners provide classic examples of persistence in achieving victory.
“Your body carried you the first 20 miles,” explains my friend Jim Johnson who has run the formidable Pike’s Peak Marathon several times. “Then you hit a point known by runners as ‘the wall.’ Your body has depleted its supply of fuel and you want to quit right there. But if you are going to go the full distance – the 26 miles – your brain has to take over from your body. You run on will power. You get your mind right. You begin to set your goals in smaller bites. Where you started out thinking about your first goal of making it for 20 miles, now you are thinking about going another half-mile, then 100 yards, and finally, a few more steps. You have to gut it out.”
Winners know they will always encounter obstacles as they pursue success, but they accept and deal with this reality by perseverance. They keep on keeping on.
Polybius, a Greek historian, wrote, “Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous effort than before.”
Persistence Is Not Pigheadedness
But common sense teaches that it is very important to understand the difference between persistence and pigheadedness.
Persistence is an act of both logic and faith. It means making sure the goal is worth the cost and believing that it is possible to reach it by making the best effort plus a little more.
Pigheadedness, on the other hand, is to ignore reality and to continue to beat one’s head against a brick wall when the reward, even if it is won, is not worth the risk and effort.
Persistence means to set goals and reach them and then set more goals and reach them, recognizing that success is never finally achieved. Winners are always pursuing the next goal.
One would have assumed that Albert Einstein could have found a high plateau on which he could have rested when he developed his theory of relativity. But no. He said of his success, “No amount of experimentation will ever prove me completely right, but one new fact can prove me completely wrong.”
Winners never rest on their laurels.
There’s a ton of wisdom in declaration that “You never conquer a mountain. You stand on the summit a few moments, then the wind blows your footprints away.”