Persistence -Why You Should (Almost) Never Give Up


It’s un-sexy and un-exciting but true. Perhaps the biggest yet often overlooked ingredient to success is persistence. One of my favorite writers on work and workplace issues is Daniel Pink (author of “Drive,” “To Sell is Human” and “A Whole New Mind”). He says:

“Persistence trumps talent. There are massive returns to doggedness. The world is littered with extremely talented people who didn’t persist.”

The other side of that coin is that there are many people who don’t possess as much raw talent as some others but they just don’t give up. These are the people who succeed. This is often the case with musicians and athletes. Why? Because musicians and athletes show up and practice. And practice. And practice. That’s how they get good at what they do.

While I do not necessarily subscribe to the “Do what you love and the money will follow” philosophy, persistence usually requires that you like what you do for the simple reason that you are more likely to persist if you like what you are persisting at. If you hate it, you won’t stick to it and then everything falls apart.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to learn more about how to shoot video. Video can be such a powerful way to deliver and consume content, that I wanted to know if it was something I could do since I knew so little about it. So I researched and bought the equipment and software and started to play around. The learning curve was pretty steep. But I found I really enjoyed the process. So I stuck with it and kept making more and more videos. Now, I can crank out a 5 minute video in no time. It won’t win any awards but it will look and sound pretty good.

Just start. That’s the hardest part of any project. It is so easy to put something off and feel like you don’t know where to begin. Turns out it doesn’t matter where you begin – you just begin. Then you persist. Pretty soon things begin to sort themselves out and unfold the right way. Even though I know this, I still have to tell myself quite often to just start. I’ll figure it out. I usually do and so do you.

Fear of making mistakes is a huge obstacle, too. This seems particularly true in large organizations. People show up to work with the goal of not making a mistake that day. Some goal.

Daniel Pink says, “Basically, you have a 90% chance of not making a mistake if you take that strategy but you have a 100% chance of never doing anything interesting.”

I bet you know plenty of people who have ideas they never start – or if they start, they stop as soon as they hit their first obstacle. That lack of persistence is a recipe for regret. I hate regret.

Launching this website has taken a lot of persistence. There is so much to do to start a website and it is easy to get discouraged thinking it’ll never get done right. What I have tried to do is surround myself with people who will keep me accountable and people who know more than I do who can help. This post was written just before we launched the site and there is still so much to do. Too much. But I will persist, step-by-step and get it done. In fact, just researching and writing this post has given me a shot in the arm to keep going – and move things along quicker so we can get up and running sooner. Since you are now reading this, it looks like we pulled it off.

I want everyone to embrace the power of persistence. Persistence is hard but eventually yields to momentum which yields results and success. It gets easier and the payoff can be so satisfying.

How do you keep going when the going gets tough? How can I help? Please leave your comments below.

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