“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Julie Andrews
I recently talked to a relative I hadn’t heard from in years. It was an interesting and semi awkward conversation but ended positively. As we were catching up, she asked the question, “are you still doing that thing?” I proceeded to ask, “what thing?” She said, “you know, that business.” I said, “yes.” She said, ” Really? (with a shocked tone) How is it going?” I said, “Incredible!” She said, “you know Kristen, that’s something I have always admired about you, you never quit.” I said, “I appreciate that, but when you love something you never let it go.” She said, “but how can you love something like that?” I said, “It’s not about what it is, I can choose to do a lot of things that aren’t all that glamorous, it’s more about how you feel when you are pursuing it. It’s not just a business to me, it’s a way of life. It’s who I am. There’s so much more to it than just a business.” She said, “interesting, well I am happy that you are sticking with it.”
Perseverance is rare today. Alternatively, I could say quitting is too common today.
Most things are easy to start; a job, a sports team, a musical instrument, a church, a school, a business, a marriage, etc. But the problem lies not in starting something, but sticking with it. I am not going to say that I have never quit anything. I have quit a lot of things; in fact way more things than I can even count. And I am not proud of it. But I have also learned along the way that quitting is the ultimate failure and if I wanted to stop failing, I needed to stop quitting. Orrin Woodward wrote an incredible article called, “Start Starting; Quit Quitting.” He says, “quitters never win and winners never quit. Despite the times when a person feels like quitting, ignore it and persist; despite the times when a person feels like a failure, ignore it and persist. Invariably, the biggest breakthroughs occur when the person refuses to quit notwithstanding the present dismal results. Persistence in a just cause through numerous failures builds character and determines whether a person joins the ranks of perpetual winners or perpetual quitters in life.”
Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise persevered despite his obstacles.
What happens with most people when they start something is they get bored. They start to fall into complacency and get distracted; they forget the reason they ever started. In the tortoise and the hare story, the hare started out great. It came so easy to him until he got sidetracked. He thought success was assured. The tortoise on the other hand just kept plugging along, recognizing that in order to win the race he just had to keep going, keep persevering and stay focused. And ultimately, the tortoise won! We as humans fight the same battle as the hare. We are constantly distracted with outside influences that fall out of line with our plan and purpose. And instead of continuing to move forward, despite the distractions, obstacles and temptations, we quit the journey or just start something new. A cycle like this comes with constant disappointment and unfulfillment.
And sometimes we find ourselves trapped in something that doesn’t align with who we are or what we want to do. In situations like this, it makes it difficult to persevere.
We have to remember that time is the only thing we can’t get back. And while there are a lot of worthy endeavors to pursue, there are equally as many less worthy endeavors. I committed to a summer softball league for four years. I love sports and I love competition. So anytime I had the opportunity to join a team, I seized it. It started out as just a co-ed recreational semi-competitive amateur league (wow, what a mouthful). Our team wasn’t the best in the league but we weren’t bad. We just loved to win. Initially we had games once a week. Then we threw in a practice every week. Eventually we played in tournaments and spent time at the local corner bar that sponsored us. And before we knew it, we were committing a lot of time to this softball league. I was so committed that even after I moved from Kenosha to Waukesha, I would drive an hour two ways just to make our games and practices. While I don’t want to offend anyone if they are committed to something like this, I want to make a point that while it was fun, this type of commitment wasn’t really in line with the life I wanted to live. So we have to be careful and remember that when we start something, it should align with our purpose and priorities.
But when you do find that ‘something,’ never quit, persevere and give it all you got.
There is no greater feeling in life than winning. Although I should be more clear. There is no greater feeling in life than winning at something that matters. I joined the community building industry in 2006. At the time I didn’t know what impact it would have on my life. I didn’t have experience in working with people or building a business. But I was ALWAYS looking for something to be a part of. Up until that point, I hadn’t found that one thing that I knew I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I take that back…at the time I did. It was basketball. However, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pursue basketball for the rest of my life. But when Dave Chatmon and our little group found the TEAM, Orrin Woodward and George Guzzardo, our lives began to change. It wasn’t the business that started to change our lives, it was the community and the cause that the business supported. I had finally found something that could make a difference in people’s lives and that could make a difference in the world. It was worthy and fulfilling and something that I could be passionate about. I have found more recently that when people take a look at the-life-business they think, “wow, that’s attractive! I can see myself using this information and sharing it with others.” And it’s not until they discover their own testimony and hear the stories of success that people start to develop a heart for the battle. I feel the reason most people don’t persevere or persist long enough to reach a certain level of success is because many times the obstacles in the battle seem bigger than their reason to continue. Meaning, their dream or cause isn’t big enough. But when a person discovers that dream worth fighting for, there is nothing that can stop him. There is no obstacle big enough that can stop me from pursuing this cause. I have such a long way to go and this is a lifelong endeavor for me but I have developed a heart for the battle and I believe there is no greater worldly cause we can pursue than building a LIFE community.