Persistence is to the character of man as carbon is to steel. ~Napoleon Hill
Vic Johnson, author of the book Dance Until It Rains, begins with the story of a tribe in Africa that confounded all of the anthropologists. It seems that this tribe had for centuries enjoyed a 100% success rate with its rain dance. In comparing this tribe to other tribes who did rain dances, but who didn't always experience success, the experts couldn't find anything that differentiated the one tribe. They performed the same rituals, praying the same incantations to the same gods, in the same costumes. Like all the tribes, they sometimes danced for days, even weeks on end. Finally an astute observer noticed something very telling. The successful tribe did one thing – and only one thing – different than the other tribes. They ALWAYS danced UNTIL it rained!
Napoleon Hill who wrote Think and Grow Rich became friends with both Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and said of both men that the ONLY thing that was different about them from everyone else was their persistence.
per-sist-ence: firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition, continuing beyond the usual, expected, or normal time
I was inspired by the dance until it rains illustration to try a little experiment. We probably all have areas of our lives where we are very persistent, but then we also have those areas where we are not so persistent but would like to be. I know I do. I took a sheet of paper and divided it into two columns. In the left column I wrote the header "persistent" and below that listed several areas where I believe I am quite persistent. Then under those areas listed all of the reasons I could think of as to why I'm persistent. Then in the right column I wrote the header "not persistent" and below that listed just one area where I would really like to become more persistent. Under that I listed all of the reasons I could think of as to why I'm not persistent.
As I looked at the two contrasting lists, I noticed that if I reframed my thinking and changed some of my actual habits or practices, I discovered ways that I could potentially become persistent in this area. I just need to modify or reframe the negatives in the right column to be addressed by the positives in the left column. This means that I'll approach this challenge very differently in the future; but if I can become persistent I'm convinced I'll also realize a different outcome. I just need to keep right on dancing until it rains now that I have my new list of strategies along with a more positive outlook.
This idea of persistence seemed timely, it being January 31 and many of us may be putting some resolutions, goals, dreams, or whatever you want to call them on paper (or screen) as we embark on 2014.
I agree with Vic Johnson and Napoleon Hill, when you look back on many of the great leaders, they did seem to have a dogged determination that made them unusually persistent. Calvin Coolidge said, "Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men 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."
As we begin the New Year, let's all commit to dance until it rains and see what we can achieve in 2014!