When I was in high school, I had an incredible teacher, Mr. Cooke. I was lucky enough to be his student three times, twice for English and once in Emerging Voices — a class which celebrated cultural diversity and taught tolerance, compassion and perseverance. The class was an elective that brought students of all grades, all ethnicities, all religions, all sexual orientations together for the common goal of understanding one another and spreading compassion among our peers. Of our many class projects, one stands out in my mind — our final play, in which groups of students prepared scenes depicting key messages we had internalized during the year. My piece, an act titled Failure Leads to Success teaches a lesson that I’ve re-visited time and time again in the decade+ since I left high school.
I’m talking about perseverance — steady persistence especially despite difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Every day, we face challenges. Some small. Some so large they seem insurmountable. Often, instead of facing a challenge squarely and with intention, we deflect. We put our heads down in pursuit of busy. We avoid our challenge hoping that it will disappear.
Does that ever work for you? It certainly hasn’t for me. In my experience, a challenge rarely disappears. Instead, it just gets more and more complicated….
Fact is, on the football field, in nature, and in life — perseverance is what takes you to the next level. It’s pushing through despite the obstacles that gets you to your goal.
A breakup, a job loss, illness, lethargy — whatever — face it squarely and remember: failure leads to success. Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs … the greats in most fields agree — they made mistakes. They failed. It is the fact that they picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and tried again that makes them great. It is perseverance that led them to achievement.
When the going gets tough, how do you push through? Leave your answers as comments below.