Today we’re revisiting the conversation we started about the idea of persistence and success. Do they always go hand in hand? Let’s jump back in to explore this question further.
Last time, we left off taking a look at how persistent successful people are. All along the way, after every step they took, they evaluated their results to see if they were getting what they wanted. And if they weren’t, then they would change the steps they took and try something different until they found a method that worked for them.
These successful people did have persistence, but only in regards to holding on to their vision. They were never persistent about the method they took to get to their goal, only about achieving it. All along the way, they were prepared to be very flexible and experiment to see what techniques and strategies worked best to get where they wanted to go. John Maxwell says that when the results don’t come they way you intend or expect to ask yourself two very important questions: “What did I learn?” and “How can I grow?”
Why do so many successful people leave out this important detail when they tell us the secrets to their success? Why do they so often neglect to mention that if a strategy isn’t working, they abandon it quickly and move on to another one? It’s not that successful people deliberately leave out this key information trying to throw us off the track to success. Perhaps it’s simply because they assume it’s very obvious to everyone already.
Successful people may assume that everyone already knows about testing each step of what you are doing to see whether it’s working or not. If it’s not working, you change it. You keep trying new approaches until you get something that works, something that gets you closer to the result you want. Then you make that part of your process.
People who admire persistence often use the example of Thomas Edison who kept trying to produce an electrical light bulb even after ten thousand failed attempts. But people often forget that while Thomas Edison was persistent in believing in his goal, he was not persistent in the way he tried to achieve it. Thomas Edison did not repeat the same experiment over and over again ten thousand times. That would have put him in the crazy books instead of the history books. Instead, he performed about ten thousand different experiments on his way to trying to find a practical electrical light bulb. Every time he tried to produce a light bulb, he then stepped back and took some time to evaluate the results.
Another key to success is taking the time to reflect and evaluate your activity and your results. Edison figured out what was working and what wasn’t working. Then he would try something different, incorporating the elements (pun intended) that worked the next time. Additionally, he kept track of the results of his efforts.
So, remember this crucial difference the next time someone tries to tell you that persistence is the key to success. Without taking some time to evaluate whether or not what you do is actually working, you can be persistent for years and never achieve the goals you want. For any of us to be successful, we need to be sure to hold on to our dream, “hold our image” and remember to notice and check frequently whether the actions we are taking are getting us closer to achieving our goals.