Calvin Coolidge once said: “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.”
Who can disagree with that? It certainly worked for Calvin Coolidge who became the 30th president of the United States despite never claiming or showing anything more than average ability at anything he did!
Many studies have shown that persistence, more than talent, is the key to success. If you’re stuck in a rut, or find that your persistence is starting to wane, these three steps will help you to “press on”.
1. Visualize your goals
When you’re stuck in a rut it’s often difficult to see beyond what’s right in front of you. But simple visualization can help you see your long-term goals and keep you on the persistence track. Take a few minutes each day (preferably when you first wake up or right before you start work) and visualize where you’d like you and your business to be in a year or two. Be realistic but also positive in your visualization.
Imagine what your improved business will mean to your life. Envision yourself as a successful entrepreneur achieving your goals. (This isn’t quite the same as “acting as if you are successful” – see my Cherry Bomb last week.) Positive visualization will give you the motivation to work hard and the inspiration to overcome setbacks.
2. Be systematic
Once you have envisioned your long-term goals, you need a plan to get there. This is an area where we can learn from the persistence shown by scientists and inventors. Louis Pasteur, who did more than anyone in history to reduce death from disease and infection, said, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” The reason persistence works for scientists is that they have a system so that they learn from their failures.
Thomas Edison is a perfect example of this. When trying to create an electric light bulb for mass production he kept experimenting with different materials, experiencing thousands of failures before finding a solution that worked. During that time, he is reputed to have said “I have not failed but have successfully discovered six thousand ways that won’t work!”
Edison didn’t give up and he didn’t keep repeating the same failure over and over. He would try something once, and then learn from his failure, and then try a new way to reach his goal. You should do the same in your business by creating a systematic approach to achieving your goals, and then adjusting your plan when something doesn’t work out.
3. Take care of yourself
Avoid burnout by scheduling time to relax or exercise – even if it is just walking the dog every morning. Set aside time every day to do at least one thing you really love. And take five minutes when you are alone to appreciate what you currently have in life. Staying inspired and persistent is not easy and the healthier you are, mentally and physically, the easier it will be to achieve your goals.
These three steps will help you persist and adapt until you succeed in your business. There any many pitfalls on the path to success. You just need to read a biography of any successful person to learn that they had many negative results on the way to their positive outcomes. The key is that they have been persistent and “pressed on” until they achieved their dreams. Just remember that to be persistent, you need a vision, you need a flexible system, and you need to take care of yourself.