3 Keys to Persistence

When in your life have you needed to be most persistent? Perhaps you have been looking for a job, pursuing a higher education degree, losing excess weight, training a puppy, raising a child, learning a new skill, writing a book, starting a business, developing a process, working to find sales, looking for something you lost, recovering from an injury, growing a garden, etc. In these examples, there is a difference between just making something happen in the moment. They all have a length of time in which a vision or goal is set and regular work is needed in order to obtain the desired outcome.

There are many characteristics and attributes of one who is persistent: determined, focused, hardworking, confident, motivated, open, adaptable, driven, etc. However, when thinking what persistence is really about, it is most present when faced with a true challenge requiring a person to dig deep within themselves to achieve something not easily attained. Persistence might be summarized by these three keys.

1. Hungry Vision. Clear sight or objective of something wanted or imagined.
2. Consistent Action. Regularly moving action forward.
3. Resilient Drive. Pushing through the obstacles or overcoming barriers.

First, Hungry Vision. The word vision is often used for future focus. “What is your vision for the day?” “What is your vision for the organization?” “What is your vision for your kids?” “What is your vision for the program?” Often we talk about vision as seeing the potential for something in order to design and create it. “Hungry vision” however is a deep inner desire and commitment to achieve something. It is not passively creating. It is not openly wandering. It is not a good intention or idealistic wish. It is an internal resonance to focus and attain success or master the challenge. You have to see it clearly. You know your “why?” You are clear on what success looks like and know it will take work. You are dedicated to doing what it takes to make it happen. This is the hungry part. It is an ever-present craving that keeps you focused on your vision.

Second, Consistent Action. It is not random action, action when you “feel” like it or action when it is convenient. Rather and more likely, it is the daily action that chips away a bit at a time toward the goal. An example is the little steps a baby makes learning to walk. There is usually failure and set back, but also effort, repetition, intentionality, and progress. It doesn’t happen with hit or miss activity. There is a dedicated and committed resolve to focus and move it forward.

Last, Resilient Drive. There is an old phrase, “Nothing worth having comes easy.” There is truth in the belief that what we work hard for has more value. Thinking back in your life, what are you most proud of? Consider things that are given to you versus things you had to work for. It required a personal “push” and ability to “come back” when feeling discouraged, overwhelmed or weighed down. It took great self-talk and confidence to “get back up” and “keep going”. We had to push through obstacles, overcome fears and rise to new heights of personal potential. We had to toil and dig deep for the resolve to finish. We have a great sense of accomplishments for these achievements; they stand out as personal “highs” in our life due to the significant investment of time, energy, and work. We are proud of the success and actually attaining the vision that was set.

Persistence is something that can be part of our daily life. Recently a retired military leader shared his personal commitment and persistence to getting up each day at 4:30 AM to run and keep in shape. He doesn’t “have” to, but he “wants” to because it is part of the discipline for the life he wants to lead.

Persistence is a healthy attitude and energy we can employ for those “big” things as well as anything we are up to. What would your life look like with deeper resilience? What would you accomplish?

With all that said one note about drive and persistence. Usually, persistent achievers are in a constant state of humble learning. However, at times persistence can take an obnoxious swing to “hard-headed stubbornness” if one gets hijacked by their ego and is unable to hear feedback and other perspectives. At times immaturity can misunderstand persistence as permission to bulldoze and be very independently focused on your mission, losing regard for the world and relationships around you. Keep yourself in a humble state that is open to learning and reflection. This will support you as you pace yourself toward the goal. You will then be able to hear and yield to inputs that will support the sustainability and success of your mission while respecting and staying in synergy with the people around you. Surround yourself with wise mentors and confidants that don’t just tell you what you want to hear, but give you candid and honest feedback, even when hard to embrace. At times our ego can become blinded by our passion or drive. It is a gift to be redirected and challenged when we are pressing the wrong direction or in the wrong way. As Anthony J D’Angelo said, “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.”

So with a spirit of learning and openness, consider what is a noble and hungry vision you want to aspire to attain. Determine what is the consistent action you will need to take to stay the course. Commit and feel in your gut the resilient drive needed to hurdle the obstacles and stay the course making wise adjustments along the way to accomplish the goal. Enjoy the journey, much of the growth and achievement is in the lessons along the way.