The Power Of Persistence

Calvin Coolidge made this statement:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. 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. The slogan “Press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

When discouragement tries to bury you in self-pity; when it seems as though your efforts toward success have been in vain, remember to hold onto that statement: Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

There is nothing half-way, lukewarm or half-hearted about persistence. It is bold, daring, and fearless. It does not hesitate but goes after what it wants, and keeps plugging until it gets results. Persistence is the ability to keep going when times get tough. The power of persistence is so strong it can overcome fear and doubt and birth in you an unwavering faith that you can and will achieve the highest success.

Persistence is an essential factor in the procedure which changes desire into success. Napoleon Hill said in his book, Think and Grow Rich, “The basis of persistence is the power of will. Willpower and desire, when properly combined, make an irresistible pair…. There may be no heroic connotation to the word “persistence,” but the quality is to the character of man what carbon is to steel.” Cultivate a habit of persistence – it is the keynote to realizing your heart’s desires and to maintaining them.

The word “persist” literally means “to refuse to give up”. It is the ability to come back fighting, accepting short term losses for long term gains, being in it for the long haul, being consistent not flashy; being the tortoise, not the hare. Remind yourself that it is not always the people with the most education or talent who make the grade. It is often the “plodders”; the people who doggedly refuse to give up. The story of the hare and the tortoise is the story of persistence winning out over great odds. In other words, as with the tortoise, you cannot be defeated if you just never give up. Most failures are traced to lack of persistence and not lack of aptitude, talent or ability.

Many of those who fail to reach their goal do so in the early stages. They find the journey harder than they thought, they lose enthusiasm, and they begin to lose belief in their skill and themselves. Many have a fear of criticism which robs them of their initiative, limits their individuality and takes away their self-reliance. Some nearly make it to their goal, only to give up when they are only just around the corner from success. If only they had known that one more push, just a little more persistence, would have given them what they had desired and worked so long and hard for.

We need to persist – to persevere. Be like the marathon runner who can take the punishment, has the disciplined mind and paces themselves with their own inner directed personal goals rather than events around them. They know what they can do, they know how to achieve their objectives and they continue to persist until they reach their goal. They see each event as a stepping stone in a longer career. The stringing together of a whole series of races where the wins outnumber the losses, where performance standards are consistently met or bettered, are the real measures of success.

Persistence is about enduring for the race series not just one event. Successful persistence becomes a habit that is a mix of knowledge, skill and desire. The desire to achieve must come from deep within oneself.

The American psychologist, William James, evolved the theory of getting your second wind, mentally, emotionally and physically. He wrote of persevering (being persistent) until you reach your second wind, (as a marathon runner does). Often he kept going when fatigue assailed him only to find that suddenly new reserves of strength were tapped so that he gained his second wind, and later his third and even his fourth. New energy would flow in to produce new power and victory. You can know that times of challenge are an indication that the great power of persistence within you wishes to be released to work for you and through you.

It is impossible to move properly toward your goal without persistent planning. It must be done and it must be done first. Can you imagine builders beginning construction without a plan? But the plan must be in the greatest detail and must be written down. Your future therefore demands the same kind of attention to detail. Plans might need to be added to, refined and even changed from time to time. Be persistent and the planning will be successful.

If one does not persist, one does not achieve lasting success in any field. If one does dare to persist toward success, regardless of lack of education, background, talent, influence, money or reputation, one can and will succeed. Dogged determination outlasts and out-games talent. Persistence is a characteristic to which success invariably surrenders.

There are five main steps to developing persistence:
1. Know your purpose and have a definite goal fuelled by a burning desire to achieve it.
2. Have a definite plan and work your plan consistently and productively.
3. Seek the knowledge necessary to carry out your plans. It is easier to be persistent when you know that your plans are based on knowing instead of guesswork.
4. Close your mind against all negativity. Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by the negative comments of family, friends and acquaintances.
5. Form a friendship with one or more people who will encourage you to follow through with your plan and achieve your desired results (mentor). By this you will “Increase by association’ which means that as you associate more and more with positive and successful people, their attitude for success will rub offCon you.

There is a lot to be said for just hanging in there – persistence and a stubborn streak have their rewards. Our history is peppered with stories of people who demonstrated no particular talent or superior intelligence and did not pursue their education beyond high school. But these individuals did display one common characteristic – PERSISTENCE – with the result that they achieved incredible levels of success!

Wilbur and Orville Wright suffered humiliation and ridicule for years for daring to believe they could make a vehicle fly in the air. Yet it was the power of their persistence that led them to produce the first successful aeroplane.

The late Jonas Salk failed 200 times before he found the right vaccine for polio. How thankful we are for his persistence.

The industrialist CF Kettering said… “No-one ever would have crossed the ocean if he could have gotten off the ship in a storm.” There is a lot to be said for refusing to give up.

Albert Einstein’s explanation for his successful discoveries was, “…not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer”. By persisting with a problem, often for years, he would make discoveries that eluded so many others.

How do you transform failure to success? Through sheer persistence. Colonel Sanders, who introduced Kentucky Fried Chicken to the world, was 61 years of age and had presented his now famous chicken recipe to a staggering 1,109 outlets before someone said “Yes.” There is definitely a lot to be said for persistence.

Success comes because of principles that are applied through the power of persistence and the degree of your persistence is actually proportional to the size of your achievement.

The following story, adapted from “Attitude Your Internal Compass” by Denis Waitley and Boyd Matheson, demonstrates the impact persistence can have on our results.

Robert the Bruce was the military leader of the Scottish forces trying to preserve their freedom. Six times Robert the Bruce marched his army into battle against the opposition and, six times they were driven back. As they retreated, Robert the Bruce took refuge in a small cave where he pondered his position and options.

Six failures had daunted his confidence, and uncertainty as to whether he could rally the troops for another assault loomed before him. As he sat there, he noticed a spider that had climbed the rugged wall of the cave and now jumped out across the opening to begin its web in this ideal location. As the spider swung out and across, it missed the opposite edge and fell to the floor of the cave. Without hesitation, it climbed the cave wall again and made a second attempt. The wind gusted through the opening in the cave and the spider missed its mark, again falling to the floor. Again without question or pause it climbed up. The spider tried a third, then a fourth, a fifth and sixth time. After the sixth fall it again made its resilient climb and leaped out for a seventh attempt to create its web. This time, the conditions were right; the spider executed its plan and reached the other side. With this first strand in place, the spider quickly completed the rest of the web and had soon caught its first prize.

Robert the Bruce took this as a sign that he must be resilient and engage the opposing army at least one more time. His resiliency inspired his troops and they conquered the enemy on the seventh attempt – and saved their kingdom.

All these examples show us that persistence is a winner’s quality – the ability to face defeat again and again without giving up. It is one of the main keys behind all successful people. Persistent people are a separated people and that is the price you must pay to continue your quest for success. It separates the “doers” from both the “gunners” (those who say, ‘one day we’re going to do this or that’) and those who have already given up; and it separates the courageous from the fearful.

The successful person who truly understands the meaning of persistence will know that this, too, is part of the price you pay – not succumbing to the limitations put on you by others.

You, too, can reach your goal successfully through the omnipotence of persistence, perhaps just when it seems least likely. What you persist in doing will become easier as your capacity and strength grow. Through persistence, you can be one of those happy, victorious people who not only chase dreams but who catch them! The persistent person also perseveres long enough for his dreams to catch up with him!


If you think you are beaten you are.
If you think you dare not you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster person –
But sooner or later the person who wins is the one who thinks he can.

“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.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson.