In the book, Think and Grow Rich, which is one of the most popular books ever written on success, Napoleon Hill dedicated a whole chapter to the principle of persistence.
He wrote, “Riches do not respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.” He also shared that based on his study of highly successful people, he found that those who were not persistent very rarely succeeded at anything worthwhile.
While it may not be a new idea that persistence is an essential ingredient for success, the question we should ask is, How can I become more persistent?
I remember one of my mentors giving a challenge of reading the chapter on “Persistence” in Think and Grow Rich every day, for 30 days in a row. When I first did it, the first few days were quite simple but as the days went on, I found it increasingly difficult to make it a priority. Initially, I was reading the chapter at night so I decided to change my reading time to the mornings, which made it a lot easier. Surprisingly, I was able to successfully complete the challenge the first time I did.
The whole point of the challenge was not to see whether I could complete it, but it was about starting to develop those persistence muscles that I did not know I had. It made me look at what I was making more important and what new habits or behaviours I needed to develop to reach my goal.
Here are five things we can do to develop our ability to be more persistent so that we can continue to move forward even if we face challenges that seem insurmountable at the time. Developing persistence is just like developing a muscle — the more we use it, the stronger it will become.
- Be clear on what is at stake when taking on something. Unless we are emotionally connected what we are doing, whether it is a project, goal or an initiative, it will be very easy to give up when things get tough. We must be clear on our overall intention and purpose for doing something. It is our connection to the end result that will keep us going when things don’t go as we expect them to.
- Adopt the mindset that failure is part of the process. Having a positive mental attitude means being aware that failure is a necessary ingredient for success. Just because we experience failure on our journey, it does not mean we have to stop or abandon what we are working towards. Failure is often feedback that a new approach is needed.
- Have a peer network or be part of a mastermind group. A group of like-minded people is a powerful resource that can support us doing tough times. It can be in the form of mentors, coaches, role models or people we trust to point us in the right direction when we face challenges.
- Break big dreams or projects into smaller targets. All too often, big dreams or projects seem so far away and can be demotivating when we are not making steady progress. This is why it helps to chunk our goals or projects into smaller goals and milestones. By completing smaller tasks along the way, it gives us the feeling that we are moving forward, which also helps us stay on track and focused on our overall objective.
- Commit to life-long learning. When we face challenges, most times, someone has already experienced and overcome something similar. Therefore, it pays for us to continuously learn and grow. Reading biographies or autobiographies of people who have overcome major adversities can be inspiring and extremely beneficial as we search for ideas on how to reach our objectives.
Developing the ability to be persistent does not have to be difficult. If we start applying the ideas above, we will start to strengthen our persistence muscle. If we don’t, chances are we will repeat the same patterns and behaviours which are giving us the type of results we are currently getting.
Question: What is another technique or strategy that can help us be more persistent?
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