I often hear persistence being used as the silver bullet when something doesn’t work the first time. The video clip from Derek Sivers below illustrates this nicely
What is it NOT
First and foremost persistence doesn’t mean to try and try again the same thing and expect a different result. Just listen to that sentence while you spell it out. You realise fairly quickly that that is foolish. Yes, you can try twice and assuming a random event happened the first time. When you get confirmation by doing it twice you know that didn’t work. Something has to change to alter the outcome.
What it is
Persistence is learning by failing and then succeeding. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes you need to be prepared to fail. The ability to suck it up, look back and say, “Damn, what went wrong?”, then analyse it and try again that is the recipe for success. Benjamin Franklin build 200 light bulbs that didn’t work. He learned something new from each attempt and finally created electric light. Steve Jobs created NExT computers after being fired by Apple. Nobody wanted it. Years later Apple bought NExT and today it is the heart of Mac OSX.
A step further
Brian Tracy says, persistence is an entrepreneurial attitude that only a few people have. He continues you need to have an environment of like minded people to be successful. In other words people can put you of your chosen path very easily if no-one believes in you and what you try to achieve. Every failure is sign for these people that it can’t and will not work. You need to be a strong person to persist against such odds, take failures as opportunities to learn and continue.
I think it is easy to see why Brian says only a few people make their dream come true. Most will settle for a moderate achievement when they are tired of set backs.
What traits make you succeed?
My wife Susani and I discussed this on Sunday morning. We didn’t come up with an answer that satisfied both of us. One big point of debate was: How big is the impact of our schooling system? And by this we mean, when a 7 year old gets a test back and things are marked in red indicating wrong, wrong, wrong, it is sending the wrong message. It says you are stupid, you didn’t learn what we did at school. We are teaching our kids, do your homework and learn by heart “stuff” = facts. We are rarely teaching, explore, try, fail, analyse, change, try again. Are teachers afraid some kids are more clever then they? Because for sure they are! There’s more knowledge every day, a new principle, a new idea, a new novel, a new song, a new application, …. That’s not coming out of nothing.
Long live persistence!