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The value of persistence

A soft skill that yields hard results in the life of an entrepreneur is that of persistence. I have seen that this vital characteristic can be the difference between giving up and going on.  Robert Frost writes, “The best way out is always through”

I think of an example of a reader of my article hailing from the construction industry. A year ago, he appeared to be absolutely at the end of his tether, with no apparent way to get out of the financial hole he was in. A year later it appears as if he is well on the way to a remarkable recovery. The main reason? His persistence.

Persistence is the quality of continuing steadily despite problems or difficulties. It is one of the qualities of high achievers. The longer you stay committed to a task or goal, the more likely something good will happen for you.  You develop yourself and learn new lessons, you face challenges and obstacles, but the payoff comes when you refuse to give up.  Have you heard that anything worth having is worth working for? It’s true. There are tons of examples of underdogs or heroes of ours who persisted, stayed on course, and met or even exceeded their goals.

Let’s look at some examples.

  • NASA experienced 20 failures in its 28 attempts to send rockets to space.
  • Tim Ferris sent his breakthrough New York Times bestselling book, The 4 Hour Workweek to 25 publishers before one finally accepted it.
  • Henry Ford’s early businesses failed and left him broke 5 times before he founded Ford Motor Company.
  • Walt Disney went bankrupt after failing at several businesses. He was even fired from a newspaper for lacking imagination and good ideas.
  • Albert Einstein was thought to be mentally handicapped before changing the face of modern physics and winning the Nobel Prize.
  • It took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts before inventing the light bulb. His teachers also told him growing up that he was too stupid to learn anything.
  • Lucille Ball was regarded as a failed actress before she won 4 Emmys and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Centre Honours.
  • Dr. Seuss’s first book was rejected by 27 publishers before it was accepted.
  • American author Jack London received 600 rejections before his first story was accepted. That is some thick skin!
  • Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team for not being good enough.
  • J. K Rowling was nearly penniless, severely depressed, divorced, and a single mom, who went to school while writing Harry Potter. Rowling went from needing government assistance to being one of the richest women in the world in a 5-year span through her hard work and PERSISTENCE.

No doubt the value of persistence.

But should you persist in every circumstance? Next week, I will share some thoughts on when to persist and when not to.

In the meantime, read over the list above one more time as you consider your own journey in entrepreneurship.



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