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Perseverance, Persistence and Determination

Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes

If the “how to” for achieving success had to be summed up in just one single word, that word would be perseverance. It is the one characteristic shared by virtually all successful people throughout history. Perseverance is the true essence of success.

There are three words in the English language that are often used synonymously, yet have slightly different meanings when referring to success. They are:

Persistence. The act of holding firmly and steadfastly to a purpose, state, goal, or undertaking despite obstacles, warnings, or setbacks.

Determination. The quality of mind which reaches definite conclusions; decision of character; resoluteness.

Perseverance. Persistent determination.

I find it quite ironic how similar persistence and insanity can appear from a spectator’s point of view. Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. When I think of insanity, I picture a guy in a straight-jacket banging his head against the wall, or Jack Nicholson in The Shining banging out on his typewriter, "All work no play makes Jack a dull boy” over and over. Then there is a story about Walter P. Chrysler who, in 1905, bought his first car, which he immediately took apart in order to see how it worked. After putting it back together again, he repeated the process—rumor has it several times. Chrysler’s friends and family thought he had lost his mind. Needless to say, Chrysler’s persistence allowed him to create one of the largest automobile manufacturing companies in the world and realize success beyond his dreams.

Persistence is NOT insanity. Giving up your purpose or goal due to obstacles—that’s insanity! In the case of Chrysler, although assembling the car over and over did produce the same apparent results, there was a learning and thought process going on in Chrysler’s head. As for Jack in The Shining... well, he was just plain insane.

The key to determination is the word “decision.” You must decide what you want before you can get it. Despite the sanity and perfectly legitimate reasoning behind backup plans, I have some admiration for those who even refuse to think of a backup plan because they are so determined that their plan is going to work. Determination takes great self-confidence and decisiveness. You must be willing to completely disregard all alternatives to your decision and set it clear in your mind that you MUST and you WILL.

Perseverance is a great word that is defined by persistent determination. It is such a powerful word that once you experience true perseverance, simply reading, saying or hearing the word will energize you.


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 Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):

  • Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
  • Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
  • What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)
    From the Course:
    Personal Development
    Year To Success
    Bo Bennett, PhD

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