“Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose.” -Tom Krause
Monday, we asked a series of questions, borne out of experiences, conversations and observations that we have made as we have been building a business here in the Southern Tier of New York State.
We went from asking “why do we quit?” to “why do we continue?” With that in mind, let us take some time to talk about the opposite of quitting: persistence.
The dictionary defines persistence three ways:
- quality of persisting: the quality of continuing steadily despite problems or difficulties
- act of persisting: the action of somebody who persists with something
- long continuance of something: continuance of an effect after its cause has ceased or been removed.
Clearly there are some elements in these definitions that apply to building a business, building a marriage or building a diet program. But why?
Do we want to prove something to other people?
Do we want to prove something to ourselves?
When we continue steadily despite problems or difficulties, we may look on it as persistence not during the process of persisting, but after the fact of a positive outcome.
After the outcome is secured, and after the battle is won, in hindsight, not foresight, persistence is lauded from the tops of the mountains to the bottoms of the valleys.
When individuals continue steadily in spite of problems or difficulties, and the outcome is the opposite of the one that they intended or stated, others may deride their actions as failures, them personally as incompetents, or as individuals lacking in the foresight to “get out while the getting was good.”
Persistence, in these cases, becomes a virtue only after it is vilified by others as a vice.
- Abraham Lincoln was only seen as persistent in a positive way after the Civil War was won and the South defeated.
- Business owners are only seen as persistent in a positive way after they make a substantial profit or build a culture or brand that lasts.
- Artists, writers, poets and creatives are lauded for their persistence (in this case continuance of an effect after its cause has ceased or been removed) after their efforts have been “recognized” when they are long dead.
The rarities who persist in efforts we would have long since quit at, become the Martin Luther Kings, the Jay Z’s, the Pablo Picassos, the Lady Gagas and the James Deans of the world.
So why should anyone persist in anything at all?
If individual, worthwhile efforts will not be sufficiently recognized, compensated or lauded while alive (or if the actions “fail” according to others’ estimation)…AND…If the applause for such actions deemed “foolish” by others, is only personal, and rarely public, what makes individuals, groups, organizations and even cultures, insist that persisting is the only way to accomplishment?
Could it have something to do with grit?