May 28 – Persistence as a key to success

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people 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.” (Calvin Coolidge)

Everything in this life that I have achieved, that was worth anything at all, took persistence. I have learned that there are no easy victories, no free lunches and no gains that are to be made without perseverance and persistence. Only when I have put my shoulder to the wheel and pushed through when I wanted to quit have I ever been successful.

Some years back I read a book about Emotional Intelligence. The book talked about how the measuring of IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a poor indicator of whether or not a person will be successful in life. As that author’s research, and the experience of Calvin Coolidge bore out, simply having the kind of intelligence measured by IQ isn’t enough to be successful. In that book, the idea that a person had to have Emotional Intelligence, or the ability to navigate through a world filled with other people was far more important.

Being the smartest, or the most educated, or the most talented person in the room might be the ticket to get through the door, but it won’t make a person successful. Only when that talented, educated, genius is willing to work hard and show diligence to a goal will success be achieved.

When I look back in my life at things where I was not successful, it is almost universally the case that at some point I just gave up. It has rarely beent that I didn’t have the requisite talent, education or intelligence to succeed, it was because I lacked the persistence that Coolidge talks about.

I do not think that failing at something because of lack of persistence makes me, or anyone, a failure in life. To have the persistence to complete something difficult I have to truly believe that the achievement is worth the effort, I have to have a fire in my belly, a passion in order to find success. When I have walked away from something, it was a sure sign to me that gaining that achievement, or finishing that project was not important to me. I could have continued on, forced myself to finish, but the achievement would have been hollow because it was not what I wanted at that time.

Persistence is a major key to success in any endeavor. But a lack of the ability to persist also tells a person volumes about where their passions lie. If I cannot push through when times are tough, then the goal isn’t really something that is important to me.

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