Persistence: refusing to give up, especially when faced with opposition or difficulty; continuing firmly or steadily
Persistence: the act of continually pursuing something in spite of obstacles
2. An Open Mind
If having a dream and committing to its ultimate achievement is something like plotting your final destination ahead of an exciting journey, then persistence is rather like the engine you need in order to get there. Persistence is what drives you on to take the next step in your journey; persistence is what prevents you from getting discouraged by what may have happened in the past; persistence is where the rubber meets the road!
In his book Touching the Void, Joe Simpson recounts how he and his friend Simon Yates, climbed Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. The west face of this peak represented a major climbing challenge and it had never been climbed previously. They set out to climb it, alpine style, which, according to Joe, is the purest style of mountain climbing. It essentially consists of taking everything you need in your rucksack and climbing, with your partner, without any additional support of any kind.
After a strenuous and challenging ascent, they both made it to the summit and after a brief period of enjoying the moment, drinking in the feeling of exhilaration, they began their descent. It was whilst traversing the north ridge that Joe slipped and fell, breaking his leg badly. The impact drove his tibia through his kneecap and beyond his femur making it completely impossible for him to use his leg. Faced with this difficult situation, they hatched a plan to get Joe down the mountain, lowering him, by hand, using two 150 feet ropes tied together.
Simon would lower Joe 300 feet down the mountain. Joe would then stand on his good leg and take up the slack. Simon would then climb down to him and then they repeated the procedure. The matter was complicated slightly by the knot they had used to tie the two ropes together, since it would not pass through the apparatus they were using. They invented a signalling system to deal with this difficulty, and were making progress using the method when the weather, which had been very bad, got even worse.
In blizzard conditions, with night approaching, Simon inadvertently lowered Joe over an overhang. Unable to communicate because of the blizzard, Simon had no idea what had happened and hung on to the rope, gradually getting weaker and struggling with his footing. At the other end of the rope, Joe was dangling above a precipice with no ability to do anything. He tried to climb the rope, but because of frost bite, he dropped the equipment he needed to make the ascent.
After about hour and a half Simon made the agonising decision to cut the rope, racked with guilt because he felt it would mean certain death for his partner. He then dug a snow cave, spent the night on the mountain and made his descent the following day. Meanwhile, Joe miraculously survived the fall; he landed on a ledge inside a crevasse. Unable to climb out because of his broken leg, he lowered himself deeper into the crevasse.
Eventually he saw a shaft of light and he managed to crawl out. Then, after that strenuous climb and difficult descent with a badly fractured leg, having survived the 100 feet fall, stumbling again and again, in constant agony, he eventually hopped and crawled the remaining five miles all the way back down the mountain. He finally arrived at the camp, exhausted and delirious - it took him three days.
Like Joe's goal of getting himself down the mountain and back to safety, the goals we sometimes set for ourselves may seem completely overwhelming at times. But we can overcome the difficulties by using the same methods he employed. Faced with overwhelming odds and a truly gigantic goal, he continually broke the task into smaller goals, each of which he believed represented an achievable challenge.
He would challenge himself to crawl to a particular rock within twenty minutes. When he got there, he set himself another similar goal, and then another, and another. This was how he managed to mentally deal with the seemingly insurmountable task of getting himself back to camp. Of course, it might be argued that, in Joe's case, he had no other choice but, actually, he did. The other option would have been to simply give up. When you consider the sheer agony at every jar of his broken leg, on top of the exhausting climb, the second almost fatal fall and then the long journey, hauling his body in freezing conditions without food or water, it might have a lot been easier to give up, in many respects.
In your journey to success, you too will need to be resilient and persistent, especially at those times when everything might seem hopeless. You need to learn how to access that inner strength that you definitely possess, that makes you stronger than you think. Always remember that, as Pooh says in the Disney movie Pooh's Grand Adventure, "you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
Here is a story, of unknown origin, that perfectly illustrates what persistence is all about:
There was a certain young man who went to meet a famous guru to ask the question, "which way is success?"
The wise old sage did not speak. Instead, he pointed to some place, far away in the distance. The man, delighted at the thought of quick success, took off in the appropriate direction. But, suddenly, there was a loud noise – a kind of "splat!" Eventually, the man staggered back, surprised and a bit bruised too. Assuming he must have misunderstood the instruction, he repeated his question. The guru again pointed silently in the same direction.
The man walked away once more and, after a little time, there was another loud "splat!" noise. When the man crawled back, he was stunned, hurt, and angry too.
"Hey" he shouted at the guru, "I asked you which way is success? I followed your directions and all I got was splatted! Will you quit all of this pointing malarkey and talk?"
Only then did the wise old man speak, and what he said was this: "Success is that way my friend, but it is a little further on than the splat!"
Translating your dream into a plan and then constantly taking actions, each and every day, that move you in the direction of your goal is what will get you there in the end. No matter how big you are aiming, you can succeed if you keep your destination in mind and then continually take actions that move you toward the goal.
When you meet an obstacle, as you inevitably will, persistence determines what you will do; whether you will give up or keep going. Persistence is what gets you back on your feet, dusted down and ready to go again.
Persistence is what gets you past SPLAT!
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