“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go”—William Feather
Perseverance and persistence are essential elements in any formula for success. They are often that extra spark, ounce of energy, or pound of determination which mark the boundary between failure and success. In fact, the line between failure and success is so faint that often we aren’t aware we are standing on top of it.
Last week I heard a U.S. Supreme Court Justice pay tribute to his grandfather’s wisdom on persistence. He has a bust of his grandfather in his chambers which has next to it this quote from his grandfather:
“Ole Man Can’t Is Dead. I Helped Bury Him”
Those words remind me of a dramatic lesson on the subject of perseverance which Sir. Winston Churchill taught. In 1941 Churchill returned to the Harrow School “where he had studied as a boy. Before he arrived, the headmaster told the students, ‘The greatest Britisher of our time is going to come to this school, and I want every one of you to be here with your notebooks. I want you to write down what he says, because his speech will be something for you to remember all your lives.’ The elderly statesman came in and was introduced. His glasses were down on the end of his nose, as usual. He stood and delivered the following words from an immortal speech that he once gave in Parliament. He said, ‘Never, never, never give up.’ Then he sat down. That was the speech.” (as quoted in “These Are Great Days,” in War Speeches, ed. Charles Eada, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1942, pp. 286–88).
As an early 20th Century U.S. President noted: "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
What can we do to inoculate our children and grandchildren with perseverance and persistence? What can we do to remind ourselves to never give up in the pursuit of our goals and dreams?:
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do—not that the nature of the thing is changed, but that our power to do is increased.”—Heber J. Grant who attributed it to Ralph Waldo Emerson