Building “persistence”

I’m still on track with my 15-day resolution to read “Chapter 9: Persistence” from Think and Grow Rich. Let me tell you this, I’ve been on the verge of quitting or at least skipping a day at least five times in as many days. It’s that damn hard!

What’s motivating me to keep on with the challenge? The desire to build persistence into a deeply embedded habit.  I know I have it, I just want to push it to the next level. And perhaps even beyond that.

The book’s a fantastic read for anyone who’s keen to embrace success and beliefs in the power of personal development. If that’s not you, you’re missing out on life. This book was written 81 years ago and its principles are still relevant. Millions have read it over the past 8 decades and thousands upon thousands have benefitted from it. And many of these people are running multi-billion dollar businesses right now.

If you still think you’re too modern for this book… good luck to you!

Though I’ve shared several important aspects from the book, particularly from this chapter, I think most of us are keen to know the source of “persistence.” In other words, we’re all aware that persistence doesn’t come easy but are always curious as to what makes such people persistent in the first place.

Here are the definite causes of persistence:

a. DEFINITENESS OF PURPOSE. Knowing what one wants is the first and, perhaps, the most important step toward the development of persistence. A strong motive forces one to surmount many difficulties. A strong motive usually means “you don’t just want to have something” but you have to have it! At all costs. And both you and I know such a want is not vague but super-specific.  

b. DESIRE. It is comparatively easy to acquire and to maintain persistence in pursuing the object of intense desire. Know your WHY behind the want. Having to have something is a great first step but to move forward you need to know WHY you have to have it in the first place. If your WANT is the fire under your belly, the WHY is the fuel that adds to the fire. 

c. SELF-RELIANCE. Belief in one’s ability to carry out a plan encourages one to follow the plan through with persistence. (Self-reliance can be developed through the principle described in the chapter on auto-suggestion). If you’re counting on the right circumstances, the right environment or just the right state-of-mind… forget about it. You have to stop counting on others and other aspects and start counting on yourself. Without that belief you cannot possibly get started. Create a plan of action in which the only dependency is YOU and noone or nothing else. That’s the hallmark of being self-reliant.

d. DEFINITENESS OF PLANS. Organized plans, even though they may be weak and entirely impractical, encourage persistence. Get a plan. Without one you’re simply wasting your time. That said, forgo the idea of drafting that perfect time. There’s no such thing called a perfect plan. Only your intent needs to be bold, the plans can and will and should change over the course of your journey to achieve what you’ve set your mind upon. A weak plan is so much more effective than having no plan at all. 

e. ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE. Knowing that one’s plans are sound, based upon experience or observation, encourages persistence; “guessing” instead of “knowing” destroys persistence. This may sound contrary to the above point but reflect deeply before you can shrug it off. A “weak” plan will compel you to follow it through until you hit a wall. Then, magically, you’ll course correct and edit your plan because you will then have new information to rely on. That’s how things happen. Heck, that’s how the great navigators explored the ends of the earth. Your chances are far better than them when they started. Knowing comes from doing. And to do, you got to have a plan. Without a plan you’re simply guessing… 

f. CO-OPERATION. Sympathy, understanding, and harmonious cooperation with others tend to develop persistence. Cooperation doesn’t mean relying on others but creating alliance for mutual gains that will see you through the rough terrains on the way to your eventual destination. Without cooperation you can’t get anywhere. You’ll be busy fighting fires, obstacles and annoying issues that will suck the life out of you. With cooperation you’ll get further, faster. 

g. WILL-POWER. The habit of concentrating one’s thoughts upon the building of plans for the attainment of a definite purpose, leads to persistence. Having the strength of character to see through your plans and convert your intention into reality is a skill. For most, it’s innate but for some it has to be developed just like any other habit. Like the saying goes, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” You have to keep going to develop that willpower. And soon you’ll be able to use it to your advantage. 

h. HABIT. Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experiences upon which it feeds. Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of courage. Everyone who has seen active service in war knows this. “Forced repetition of courage” that’s how you develop willpower. But repetition also does one thing beautifully — it builds a habit. There’s no formula for buliding a habit though experts say it takes 21, 30, 45, 60, 75, or 90 days to build a habit. My take is to work on what you want to focus on everyday for at least 5-10 minutes and soon you’ll build it into your schedule. Starting small and staying consistent is the key. That’s how you build a great habit. 

— Hill, Napoleon. Think and Grow Rich: The Original, an Official Publication of The Napoleon Hill Foundation (Kindle Locations 2509-2522). LBA. Kindle Edition.

These 8 causes are what helps one build persistence. And like most aspects of our lives, building persistence takes time. It’s a project that will have you go through an elaborate process of change, acceptance, and progress.

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