While out biking recently on one of the many beautiful trails that weave through the estuaries and coastal waterways in the Hawkes Bay New Zealand, (flat trails I might add)… I witnessed a life and death struggle that epitomized one of life’s great enduring qualities – perseverance.
A Shag had caught a tasty but uncooperative lunch dish, an eel. The shag is a skilled and veracious hunter, but this looked ambitious even by its own high standards; there was no way that the eel saw himself on the menu. I was transfixed as at least half a dozen times the eel disappeared down the shags gullet only to reappear sliming its way back to daylight desperately wrapping itself around the shags neck trying to break free. I could almost hear the voice of David Attenborough narrating the whole incident! This epic struggle went on for a good 10 minutes with neither giving an inch. The shag became aware of a fascinated audience, me, and decided to take the battle further up the river flying off with lunch dangling and writhing.
For the shag it was a battle for lunch, for the eel it was battle for life!
Sometimes we persevere over the every-day events in life such as work, or study, or sporting ambitions, fitness, getting children out the door or into bed, maybe even over lunch! Other times it feels like a matter of life and death, survival. Working in sales I appreciate the importance and power of perseverance, but at the other end of the scale and on a personal level we have also suffered the heart-breaking loss and tragic death of an adult son. This was devastating and beyond words to describe; just making it through one minute, and then one hour, to the end of a day, was perseverance, it was survival.
Sometimes you are the shag, sometimes you are the eel.
What’s important is that no matter what the circumstances, the principles remain the same.
Here are 4 ‘P’s of perseverance I have observed.
Purpose: – Make sure the cause, the reason you are preserving for, is worth it. Identify your purpose as being of high value and return, because achieving it will demand constant levels of commitment, energy, time and resources. If it’s your work or career, then it’s worth it. Your livelihood depends on it, putting food on the table, aspiring to greater achievements, providing for your family – it’s worth it. Maybe pursuing that new idea, that 10,000th idea! Or being a better mum or dad, think about what is really important, identify your purpose and then never give up!
Purpose can be as large as a life pursuit or as immediate as a reason to get through the day. Purpose adds meaning. And with meaning comes the hope and strength to take the next step, whatever the challenge.
Personal: Don’t take knock-backs personally. A sales person on average will make 15 calls to find one interested prospect. That’s 14 rejections out of 15 calls! If he/she took these rejections personally they would never get out of bed in the morning. When you focus on a goal and have a purpose you can almost guarantee obstacles and resistance. It comes with the territory. Sometimes that resistance is external, often-times it’s internal. The strange phenomenon is this; it’s the resistance and the adversity we encounter in life that can galvanise an inner strength to achieve even greater things. Consider today’s challenges as training for tomorrows achievements.
Patience: Life is a distance race not a sprint, although the years go by fast enough! When the gardener plants the seeds they don’t germinate overnight. And he doesn’t go digging them up to see if anything is happening! He patiently prepares and plans for the harvest, which comes in due season. Having done his part, he now trusts other laws. There are processes that are taking place and just because you can’t see them, it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening.
Success in any arena seldom comes to those who do not persevere.
As a business friend says of his successful business, ‘It was an over-night success after 12 years hard work’.
Persistence: Persistence is what we practice while we are exercising patience. Patience does not mean inaction. Identify what needs to be done, the right activities, the right course of action, the right attitude and persist with these things. Make habits of them, building healthy routines. Every day, every week, every month and every year, you simply do not give up; you persist.
So identify your PURPOSE, don’t take the knock-backs PERSONALLY, and work PATIENTLY and PERSISTENTLY on the attitudes and activities that get results.
As for the shag and the eel; I could only see the ensuing battle from a distance so I can’t tell you if it was lunch or life that won the day; all I know is that whoever persevered would also prevail.