I’ve always said I’m nothing if not persistent and it’s true but… recently I’ve realized there’s a difference between persistence and not giving up. It’s the simple idea that hits us right between the eyes. Sometimes when we refuse to give up we’re still just waiting for something to happen, for conditions to be “just right”, for that big break or quantum leap. We figure that if we just hang in there…our ship will come in. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
When confronted with this difference I had to wonder, is that what I’ve been doing? I really had to percolate on this a little. The answer(s) aren’t horrible but they also aren’t the “hero’s journey” I hoped they would be. I realized that I have persisted and stayed the course in the past and that’s a good thing. I have many successes and memories as a result. On the other hand my persistence hasn’t always been focused, consistent and the effort lacked the urgency of a drowning man. When those ingredients were present the successes and blessings were there too. All-in-all the news is good. I know how to do it and now I recognize what to do. The truth is if I’m going to get the most out of my God-given talents I must persist with focus and purpose. For those familiar with the parable of the talents in the New Testament you know this is a responsibility.
In The Greatest Salesman in the World (by Og Mandino) there’s a sentence repeated over and over in scroll 3, “I persist until I succeed.” It sounds simple, don’t give up, right? That’s what I used to think and it’s partially true but there’s more. It’s also about the consistent effort with a real purpose, a sense of urgency, a burning desire if you will. We can all think of times in life when we had that burning desire to win, be justified or achieve something against the odds and confidants who counseled us to accept our lot in life. That purpose is what provides the focus and drive to the effort. Once I figured out my primary drivers my purpose came back into focus. It hadn’t been far off but was scattered and lurking in the shadows. Now it’s plastered all over my home.
I’m on the cusp. I’m much better at being the observer and taking a bird’s eye view of what’s going on around me. That helps me persist when my old habits and time wasters break through. It’s also why I understand my classmates when they write of backsliding, missed assignments and confusion. I understand and identify with the sentiments but won’t speak them or write them into my reality. I persist in being the observer and my gatekeeper is on guard against defeat. I persist until I succeed!