Most of you probably tuned into the 91st annual Oscar awards last night, a show I’ve always enjoyed. The outfits! The talent! The anticipation!
As I was watching, I was so pleased to hear some of the winners discuss the importance of perseverance. As Lady Gaga said in her moving acceptance speech (for Best Original Song in A Star is Born), “If you have a dream, fight for it. There’s a discipline for passion. And it’s not about how many times you get rejected or you fall down or you’re beaten up. It’s about how many times you stand up and are brave and you keep on going.”
Then there was Mahershala Ali (who won Best Supporting Actor for Green Book) who dedicated his award to his grandmother, who he said has “always been in my ear my entire life telling me if I don’t at first succeed, try, try again.”
Their inspiring speeches got me thinking about how importance perseverance really is—and how we can develop this skill in our own lives.
What is perseverance?
Perseverance is about following through with something despite facing difficulties or delays in your success. To me, it’s not just a quality someone has, but a skill that can be developed over time, and it might look different in the various areas of one’s life.
Entrepreneurs and business owners need perseverance in order to continue to work hard. However, according to Bloomberg, 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs woh start businesses fail within the first 18 months. I have a hunch that it’s not always about logistics, but about failing to keep calm and carry on even during the rockiest of times.
Relationships, too, require perseverance in their own way. When things feel like they’re falling apart, perseverance in a relationship is about staying committed to your partner rather than downloading Tinder and seeing what else is out there.
And any parent knows that raising a kid welcomes a plethora of difficult feelings and experiences. Perseverance is about standing by your child’s side even when you feel like you’re beating your head against a wall.
Perseverance in the 21st Century
I reckon that many of us are being robbed of the experience of developing perseverance partially due to societal changes that have occurred around us. After all, perseverance is largely about delayed gratification, something that we seldom experience now. Feel like a burger? Order it through Uber Eats and have it delivered immediately. Want to find a date for the weekend? Download an app and find someone you think is attractive. The result of this fast-moving world is that we forget that not all things happen quickly, which can make us feel impatient, entitled, and fragile.
1. Know your “why.”
Knowing what your purpose is and why you’re doing things is essential. I have to use this technique constantly as an entrepreneur. When I’m feeling discouraged, dejected, or frustrated, I need to reconnect with why I decided to start my business in the first place. I need to remember how passionate I am about helping others. I need to remind myself of the end goal so that there’s a reason behind all of the things I’m doing amidst the hard times. Without purpose, it’s easy to just feel lost and confused. Find your why, connect with it passionately, and never forget it.
2. Practice discipline.
Perseverance is largely about disciplining yourself. It means scheduling things into your day, making to-do lists, saying ‘no’ sometimes, implementing structure into your daily life, and sticking to it. Perseverance isn’t about passively waiting around through the hard times until they’re over; it’s about using the wonderful skills you have to tackle them effectively.
3. Get off your high horse.
With all of this instant gratification happening around us, I fear that many of us have come to think that we deserve certain things. I deserve to have a lot of money. I deserve to have a nice car and big house. I deserve to have this glass of wine tonight and not do the dishes. It’s also tempting to look at social media influencers, celebrities, and others and assume that they became successful overnight. However, success is never an accident. Never. If someone has a successful business, I guarantee you they’ve had to buckle down throughout their career and do a lot of things they didn’t want to do. If someone has a toned physique, it’s not because they have a “good metabolism,” it’s because they’re going to the gym 3 - 5 times a week and not putting garbage into their body. If someone has a good relationship, it’s because they are intentional about putting their partner first more often than not. These things are not accidents; they are intentional actions that require effort. It is only when we practice these skills over time that we can develop perseverance.
4. Don’t reward yourself for everything.
This goes in line with point #3. I’ve noticed recently that some people have taken the idea of “self care” and used it as an excuse to avoid responsibility. Don’t get me wrong: self-care is immensely important for maintaining our mental health and wellbeing. But using “self care” as a misnomer for harmful habits is a no good, very bad thing. For example, avoiding paying your bills to watch the newest episode of The Bachelor isn’t self-care; it’s ignoring your responsibilities and a not acting like an adult. Perseverance is about knowing that you have to do hard work and that you won’t always get a pat on the back for that. That can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it’s true.
5. Connect with your inner fighter.
Don’t forget how much you’ve been through in your life. Throughout all of those experiences—both the good and the bad—you’ve developed a unique and special set of skills that you can undoubtedly rely on when an obstacle comes your way. Don’t lose sight of how capable you are, even when self-doubt creeps in.
The Bottom Line
Perseverance is essentially about disciplining yourself, putting in the hard work, and being okay with delayed versus instant gratification. In other words: keep calm and carry on!