IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED . . .
"If at first you don't succeed . . . you should probably steer clear of skydiving."
Tom and Ray
In a world of instant gratification, superstar talent, and "overnight" success, it's easy to overlook the power of perseverance. It's definitely old school to sing the praises of this character trait. The fortitude to battle through missteps and difficulties, to work hard, and to stick to the task until success is finally achieved may not seem all that sexy, but in real life it's a very big deal. John D. Rockefeller, once the world's richest man, stated:
There is no other quality so essential to success of any kind as perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.
The path to success is seldom a straight line; it requires flexibility in working around potholes and obstacles. Successful people don't get flummoxed by detours and setbacks. They know that do-overs and work-arounds are part of the game. My eighth-grade science teacher, a crusty old educator from Oklahoma, had a favorite saying that I still remember:
When you make a mistake, don't stop.
That's why pencils have erasers on top.
If at first you don't succeed, you may need to work a little harder. Perseverance involves hard work; long, grinding, tedious, back-breaking work. Lucky breaks and serendipitous breakthroughs occasionally happen, but they usually happen to the hardest working and most persistent. Thomas Jefferson said it best:
I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.
Another element of perseverance is stick-to-it-tivness. Travis Bradberry called it grit. "Grit is that 'extra something' that separates the most successful people from the rest. It's the passion, perseverance, and stamina that we must channel in order to stick with our dreams until they become a reality."
Perseverance - in the form of flexibility, hard work, and grit - is in my estimation the unheralded but absolutely essential "secret sauce" of success. Losers give up. Winners persevere.