Perseverance sounds like a complex and convoluted word. But is it? The formal definition is “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success “. Somehow the definition itself still sounds complicated. Lets break it down and grasp it better.

In its simplest form, perseverance is the ability to carrying on and to keep moving forward regardless of setbacks. It relates to being able to stay bold and defiant against the odds and not giving up in order to get to a desired outcome.

Examining the lives of respected accomplished individuals; a common characteristic that they all share that seems to have been a great contributing factor to their achievements is their perseverance. Success inevitably arrives for those that move past their failures and persevere.

Here are some examples of well-known individuals who may have remained unknown had they not persisted in sticking to their goals despite facing failure:

Oprah Winfrey often referred to as the “Queen of All Media”, was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore. She went on to become a multi-billionaire. “Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. Do better the second time.”

Stephen Spielberg considered a founding pioneer of the American New Wave of Hollywood era, was rejected from The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts three times. He was accepted into California State University, Long Beach but he subsequently dropped out and pursued directing without a degree. He went on to become one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.

Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel) left Oxford University without earning a degree and returned to this US homeland. He began submitting writings and drawings to magazines, book publishers, and advertising agencies. 27 different publishers rejected his first book, “And to think I saw it on Mulberry Street”. His books that weren’t good enough for these publishers went on to sell more than 600 million copies worldwide.

Stephen King one of the most famous and successful horror writers of all time. His books have sold more than 350 million copies, been adapted into feature files, TV series and comic books. His first book Carrie was rejected 30 times.

Michael Jordan, the NBA greatest basketball player of all time, didn’t make the cut for his high school basketball team. “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Jim Carey famous Canadian-American comedian and actor, was booed off the stage in Toronto at Yuk Yuk’s on his first comic stand-up appearance. When he auditioned for Saturday Night Live for the 1980-81 season, he failed to land the part.


Some practical tips for persevering:

  • Visualize your end state (what it is you want): surround yourself with visual queues and reminders about what it is you are aiming for. This helps imprint the vision of what it is you want to achieve into your subconscious mind. The reminders will pull you forward and inspire you to get to your target outcome.
  • Focus on the motivation behind reaching your goal: know what your reasons are behind why your goal is important to you. This way you won’t easily get deterred when the going gets tough or you encounter obstacles. Knowing your end game will keep you in the game and encourage you when you come across barriers.
  • Set an intention: make a conscious commitment to your vision and mean it. Write it down, say it out loud “I set the intention to …..”. This alerts your subconscious that you are not only committed and determined but also expect and already assume that you will get results. It also increases the level of awareness and resolve in finding a successful outcome.
  • Acknowledge your accomplishments: think back to your past successes no matter how small. Write them down and review them often and keep adding to your list. When you focus on your success track record this builds momentum. Focusing on what you have already achieved gives you the confidence and courage to keep at it and maintain your enthusiasm.
  • Try new experiences: exploring new things helps to keeps you from becoming stagnant and opens up your mind to innovation. New ideas may start to flow and come in handy to get you unstuck. A fresh approach is often needed when trouble shooting how to maneuver around obstacles getting in the way of your goal.
  • Take good care of your self: tend to your mind, body and emotional health and it will produce better results in all areas of your life. When your health is in disarray and you are not in top shape, this can disrupt your progress. Make sure to nurture your mind. Keep learning new things, build in quiet reflective time and nourish what inspires you. Your body also needs to be well maintained to support you. Provide it with the proper nourishment, sleep, exercise and it will keep you at top of your game for optimum performance and productivity. Having the stamina to keep going is directly related to the level your commitment to self-care.
  • Be patient, and work hard at not getting discouraged: when you have put all the other six factors into play the only thing left to do is to be patient. The ancient Romans feats remind us “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” Just keep moving forward, even if it is only one tiny step at a time and even if it means you need to wait and pause in between the steps you do take. Just keep going.


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