True grit.

“We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”. Winston Churchill

Ok I’m not talking about war and maybe Churchill’s famous quote is a little over the top, but his words have inspired many to forge ahead, even through the most difficult times. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945 and again from 1951- 1955, Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th Century. And he knew a little something about perseverance.

Perseverance or true grit is one of the makings required to achieve success. We’re all human; it’s hard to “stay the course” when things become difficult. Along the path to success, there are many obstacles: the naysayers, finances, education, limitation of resources and the unyielding hurdles we invent ourselves.

We’re probably good and familiar with the quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. Yet, with all of these challenges, we see others finding ways to move forward. What sets these individuals apart? Perseverance. Perseverance is unbreakable, indestructible and abiding. Are you born with it? How do you acquire it?

Consider these people:

Thomas Edison
was called stupid and “un-teachable.” He was fired from many jobs. He persisted; focusing on his true passion as an inventor. Amongst 1000 plus patents we have the light bulb, stock printer, phonograph and alkaline battery!

J.K. Rowling
was going through a divorce, living in a tiny flat with her daughter and was surviving on government subsidies. She sent the manuscript of Harry Potter to twelve different publishers (each one rejecting it) and the last one telling her to “get a day job.”
She continued on and moved ahead. She’s currently the second-richest female entertainer on the planet; a household name currently worth nearly $15 billion!

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because his boss thought he lacked creativity. He could barely pay his rent and even resorted to eating dog food. 
He was told Mickey Mouse would fail because the mouse would “terrify women.” The Three Little Pigs were rejected. Pinocchio was shut down during production. Bambi,Pollyanna and Fantasia, were initial flops. His perseverance and success today needs no explanation.

Closer to home, we’ve seen perseverance locally. After seven years of collecting facts and data, the Hockey Calgary Board saw their efforts come to fruition with the elimination of body checking in PeeWee hockey as ruled by Hockey Alberta. Despite aggressors, controversy and mud slinging, a team of dedicated individuals persevered and made the game safer for kids (the most important part). Their true grit was challenged; they endured hardships, name-calling and insults but they were triumphant. [Congratulations to the Hockey Calgary Executive for leading the charge and making children safer in minor hockey!]

Perseverance is the secret to accomplishing goals. But can it be learned?

Ten steps to help you persevere:

  • Set clear goals and identify what you’re trying to achieve. If you haven’t identified where you want to travel, you will have a difficult journey.
  • Avoid negative energy; including people, surroundings substances, and circumstances. Pessimism comes in many shapes and forms; it can manipulate you before you even know it. Stay away from it all.
  • Remember your resolve. Maintain your discipline and focus on the end game. Drive, determination and commitment are not just words; they are behaviours that come from your actions and choices.
  • Keep daily progress reports (even when you feel your progress is insignificant.) I can tell you, progress is progress! Remember the dance of success is two steps forward, one step back.
  • Focus on passion. The drive of perseverance is a passion driven principle. No Passion, No Perseverance!
  • Each day find something positive from your life, and give thanks!
  • Identify what anchors you and stay true to your anchor constantly.
  • Listen to your inner voice and follow it. I know you have one. If your inner voice, your gut, your senses are making you feel uncomfortable about something or someone or some place remove it or them from your life. This is the “perseverance blocker.”
  • Check your ego constantly. This is a tricky one because we treasure our pride, but ego is obnoxious and will get in the way of goals.
  • Remember that you are only given what you can handle.

Stay focused. Never quit. Find your inner voice and drive towards your goal. Join the ranks of Churchill, Disney, Edison and Rowling. You’re just as capable as any of them when you have perseverance.

“One of the most common causes of failure is the habit of quitting when one is overtaken by temporary defeat.” ~ Napoleon Hill

© 2013-2014 R. Todd Millar. All rights reserved.

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