Throw in the towel? Don’t you dare!

TFT display showing persistence artifacts

TFT display showing persistence artifacts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keep trying.

Don’t give up.

Never let ‘em see you sweat.

It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

What’s the best skill, talent, quality or trait one can possess in order to be successful?

Let me start out by telling you which ones don’t necessarily lead to success.

Good Looks

Good looks by and of themselves are not enough coat tails to ride to success. Of course good looks are also something people feel you can never have enough of. But, alone, they don’t result in success any more than a fool who hits the lottery (and is parted with his money soon thereafter by virtue of stupid behavior and decision-making).

Formal Education

This is another one that doesn’t assure anything whatsoever. College degrees are the new high school diplomas. Unless you have a masters, or several of them, the chances for success that you can attribute to four year degrees are very much reduced relative to the value these now commonplace sheepskins had twenty or more years ago; unless you define success as paying off your hefty student loans.

English: Entity life cycle (Java Persistence API)

English: Entity life cycle (Java Persistence API) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hard Work

There may have been a time when working hard would ensure or enable upward mobility. That time came and went during the 20th century. Being in the right place, at the right time, in front of the right people—timing—has replaced hard work as one of the paths towards success (I said I was starting with attributes that don’t lead to success, but I give you timing as one of the ways to success, albeit one, like luck, that’s hard to utilize).

Playing it safe, not taking Risks

You may be looking out for a family or maybe you just don’t like testing new waters. But if you stay in the same job forever because that is your comfort zone, you’ve limited your potential as a human being. Sure, the economy is still poor overall, but even if you can’t afford to quit your job, try doing something else you’ve always wanted to do, in your spare time. Variety is the spice of life as staidness in daily routines is the harbinger of regret.

Waiting for it to come to you

I hear people say things like, “I’m just putting it out to the universe and if it’s meant to be, it’ll come my way.” That’s their way of enabling themselves to do nothing, to not take action, to not be responsible for their lot in life, to remain fearful and afraid. When something doesn’t come their way (that they want), I hear, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.” Fate may play a part in all of our lives, but I suggest that if one does nothing, their fates will be resigned to lack of success.

And now for the part you’ve waited patiently for up to this point, the part where I reveal the one true path to success for all that eludes almost everyone because we don’t want to try any longer, because we find it easier to give up than to keep going, because we don’t believe in our convictions, the things that we believe to be good and true and more importantly, in the long run, good and true for ourselves.

English: Detail of a Dell 1905FP TFT display s...

English: Detail of a Dell 1905FP TFT display showing whole screen persistence artifacts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have a good head on your shoulders, you respect experience as one of the best teachers and you consistently extend kindnesses as you live, then persistence will be the one quality I purport as your best chance for success.

Smarts, experience and kindness will enable the power of persistence. Several years ago I had a disagreement in the work place and was going to send an email to vent my frustrations. I was emotional. A co-worker recognized my situation and advised me to wait 24 hours before sending the email. “Sleep on it,” she said. “If you feel the same way tomorrow, then send it off then.”

This advice reminds me of the song, “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Perspective can change like one day into another. If your perspective remains the same after this period of time passes, then persistence ratchets up your chances to be effective now that your emotions have had a chance to calm down.

Persistence means trying when others would have packed up their belongings and moved on and away. Persistence is the secret gift that people who have kept trying understand to be a facilitator of things like upward mobility. Most of all, persistence is subtle and not on display for everyone to view. But, I feel, ironically enough, that as powerful as it is, persistence should be an endorsable skill on LinkedIn.

Give me the person who doesn’t quit until the job is completed and done well. I’ll take him or her every time in the knowledge we’ll be successful.


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