Friday, February 15, 2008


I overheard a conversation between two people where they were talking about the difficulties one of their coworkers was having in becoming more successful. They were sharing their thoughts on what needed to be done in order for success to happen, “change XYZ” and “try ABC”. Before they left the spot where I was sitting they said “ultimately he will get it, he is a persistent young man”.

From a young age we are told of stories of persistence and success, about the sales person who would just not take “no” for an answer, about the athlete who was cut from their High School team only to become a great professional. We are fed the wonders of persistence and its instrumental role in our success to the point where we believe that if we just “continue despite problems”, ultimately we will become successful.

In reality, persistence has no relation whatsoever in our success, in fact persistence has the ability to derail our chances at success more than it has the ability to facilitate our success.

By definition, persistence is “existing or continuing for an unpleasantly long time”. Sounds glamorous doesn’t it?

If our goal is to be successful then we have to look at how we go about achieving our success. If we are to achieve success through persistence then we are paving a road where we will outlast our competitors despite how unpleasant the road is. Our other option is to achieve success through action and beat our competitors to the end result.

In real terms this is the difference of a sales person using the same sales pitch to 1,000 people so that they can sell 100 items and the sales person changing their pitch to meet the needs of the consumer and selling 100 items in half the time. Persistence allowed one sales person to continue despite hearing the word “no” 900 times, while changes in action allowed the other sales person to produce with better time management and less stress.

Our ability to persist without adapting will grant us rewards, but at the cost of time and effort. Settling for problems and difficulties with the idea that our persistence will make them go away, is taking a passive approach towards our success and we will ultimately watch as others pass us by.

If we are wanting to create our own success, to facilitate our happiness, then we need to understand that our success depends on our ability to act and adapt. Our success depends on us knowing what we want and being willing to make the necessary adjustments to achieve. If we fail to do so, if we just aim to ride out the storm and persist, then we must also be willing to victimize ourselves and settle for less than we are capable of achieving.

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