Nothing takes 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. – Calvin Coolidge

Yesterday I shared a blog post on the importance of Practice, and the nature of practice. Today, let’s take this a step further and consider the way persistence colors our practice.

In 2001, I started working with a client I had been pursuing for 3 years. I had left messages for the director of a charter school in Toledo Ohio every 2-3 months, had been pleasant and hopeful, and went on about my business until one day, finally connecting over the phone she said to me, “I passed you on the highway. I saw your sign on your car and immediately knew you as the one who didn’t give up getting an appointment with me. When I saw you in your car, I knew we would finally meet.”

Do I treat all prospects this way – keep connecting with them until I wear them out to get in front of them? No. But when I have intuition about someone, or get a gut feeling about them, I continue connecting. For some reason – possibly one I am unaware of – there will be a reason for us to meet.

When I was in 4th grade at a new school, I was selected to represent my school in a track and field contest. I had placed second in our local softball throw competition, but because I showed up every day to practice, the coach selected me to represent the school in the event for my age group.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know at the time – that persistence pays off. I simply enjoyed the recognition, wanted to prove myself and followed through.

Not only does persistence shape our skills, it helps re-frame our attitudes.

In the Calvin Coolidge quote at the top of this post, he defines persistence as the key in solving the world’s problems. Why? It’s about not giving up.

The scariest challenge mankind faces today is public speaking. Yet some of society’s meekest – we introverts – show up as the most talented on the platform because we choose to persist in finding our footing.

Not only do we presenters test our mettle as someone with relevance and expertise, we test our ability to handle pressure of the moment – facing an audience without losing our focus, handling the responses and reactions and addressing questions that come unsolicited. Our persistence gives us the motivation to see what we are really about. And with this persistence to get up in front of one audience after another, rehearse frequently, ask for feedback – with this persistence comes the eventual result.


The persistent are those who maintain action regardless of their feelings.

Many people today tell me I am a strong presenter. Not just a good one. I say this humbly, simply for one reason. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I was not born a good presenter. I persisted.

I spoke time and again and sought feedback and spoke again. Why? I grew up both shy (afraid to make conversation) and an introvert, (someone who prefers alone time to time with groups of people).

And then I realized I wasn’t a child but an adult. I am supposed to listen, but also I am expected to speak. I wasn’t comfortable with this so decided I better practice. I hadn’t changed my feelings about speaking. I still got really nervous and wondered if I could ever be any good. But my feelings about speaking didn’t matter. Regardless, I knew speaking to be a key for my career. And for that reason, I persist in speaking and practicing, today.

In what ways have you demonstrated persistence? Are there ways you wish to pursue it more? I can help.

It may be embarrassing to not perform well, which usually encourages us to save face and walk away.  But the persistent, those who really desire to prove something to themselves or to others, the persistent are driven over their own barriers. You can be, too.



Share Button
On November 20th, 2012, posted in: attitude, Breaking down barriers, practice, self management by