Shannon Presley Alexander
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In wrapping up a three part series focused on the critical factors for success in the 21st century, we’ve examined grit and tenacity; let’s close the sequence with taking a closer look at perseverance. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” In essence, regardless of the speed bumps appearing in your road, continue to move forward on your journey. While there may be easier paths, life itself is not easy; nor has one ever claimed it to be. One thing is certain, to live life, reach goals and be successful, you must persevere.

So what is perseverance? It is the quality that allows someone to continue trying to do something even though it is difficult, according to Merriam- Webster Dictionary. It’s having the resolve to do something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

How do you sustain a high level of perseverance?
First of all, you don’t limit yourself. Stop worrying about what it looks like to others. The path doesn’t have to be beautiful, perfect or cleverly accomplished; you just have to do it. Second, turn your obstacles into opportunities. Look for the positives; use feedback in making your next efforts more successful than the previous. Oddly enough, sometimes the worst situations lead to the biggest breakthroughs. And when the going gets tough, and it will, remind yourself why you’re doing what you are doing. What’s the purpose of you achieving this goal? What would it lead to? Continue to ask yourself questions of this nature until you remember the importance and ready to resume with the same perseverance as you began. Take note, when things get harder, it is typically because you are on the verge of achieving what you set out for.

Imagine if these remarkably talented individuals gave up when the odds seemed stacked against them:
Elvis Presley would have given up after his first performance. He was advised to “go back to driving a truck.”
Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job because she was “unfit for TV.”
J.K. Rowling was rejected by twelve different publishers and told to”get a day job” prior to having her first book accepted.

While thoughts of giving up are very common, remember the difference between success and failure is often just a try away. I want to leave you with a few quotes to keep you focused when your thoughts begin to lead you astray:

Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying ‘I will try again tomorrow.’
–Mary Anne Radmacher, American author and artist

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
–Thomas Edison (1874-1931), inventor of the light bulb
A failure is not always a mistake. It may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.
–B.F. Skinner (1904-1990), American psychologist
Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), American author
Let me tell you the secret that has led to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.
–Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), scientist and inventor of the pasteurization process
All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
–Walt Disney