Tips for Success: Tip #4 Be Persistent
Being persistent and unstoppable is an essential trait for success in life. Regardless of your skill, experience, intelligence or fabulous good looks, unless you are willing to persist with what you are committed to, you will struggle to achieve many of the things that are available to you.
Sure there are some great things that you can have given to you on a plate, but on the whole most of the things that are really worth having require some commitment and effort to achieve or maintain.
Even with just a quick look at my life, I can safely say that my persistence and determination has been the foundation for the majority of the amazing experiences, discoveries and love that I now enjoy!
A persistent life…
When I was a kid I was part of the school Christmas show, which I thought was very exciting. Of course if the school can do it, why couldn’t I! I enrolled 15 kids from our street and we created our own concert. This consisted of translating the music for the instruments we could play, designing costumes, choreographing skits and songs and performing our show to a crowd of parents and siblings. I still vividly remember the candlelight flickering on the face of one of the boys when we started our rendition of the first song “Gaudete” and how excited I was to wear my florescent orange “band aid” jumper on stage! We asked for donations for Oxfam at the end of the night, and counting up the $1,103 we had raised was the best feeling in world.
At the time the excitement was in creating something, but it is only in the last few years that I can actually appreciate that it was no mean feat for three 11 year olds and a whole raft of younger kids to persist with months of rehearsals in the garden of our building.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself in the workplace, and I was an independent woman of the world! My adventures lead me to Wellington and quickly found myself in one of the hardest jobs imaginable: telephone sales. If there was ever a need for persistence in life at 17 years old, I had found it… a commission only job making appointments for sales reps to sell $4000 vacuum cleaners to pensioners.
Luckily this progressed to a much more palatable job and I entered the world of business to business sales. Compared to hassling people at home for their time and money this was a breeze!
My career in telecoms and IT sales spanned a decade, my tenacity and friendly persistence making up for what I lacked in confidence, finesse and structured sales skills.
So how did persistence help me in sales? At the time I didn’t think much of it, but in hindsight it was fairly common for my clients to call me as they faxed their order and confide with a smile that “the only reason I am signing up is because you are so (damn) persistent!”
Then in the peak of my career, I quit my job and entered the most exciting and challenging part of my life, I call this bit “the training” and I have been unstoppable in years of learning by trial and error what works in business and what doesn’t work. It is a huge contrast to go from being a high flying employee to being the owner of a failing first business. These are the types of challenges that I look back on as the turning points in my life. Every failure I experienced taking me one step closer to the vision that I have for my life, at times stripped of everything but sheer determination.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Sir Thomas Edison
Nowadays when coaching small business owners I can give real examples of what works and what doesn’t work because more often than not I have actually tried it! It is the juice of those challenging, sometimes impossible situations that have me really understand what it is to be struggling in the swamp of failure, grit your teeth and then pop out the other side, into a incredible land of anything is possible that only the persistent get to experience.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill
But the best bit was yet to come! Despite my drive to create new things and make the world a better place, the cherry on top was in the area of relationships… (Warning: if you have a weak stomach you may wish to skip this bit!!) Relationships are one of those things that you can never give up on, and my persistence paid off! Since the age of 16 I have been in relationships that were unusually difficult because they involved either a massive age gap (think 16-24), living in different countries or both!
Yet I never gave up on my idea of what I wanted, always making the most of hard situations with ridiculously romantic view of what was possible in terms of love, support, fun and adventure.
This was only ridiculous until I actually got what I had been searching for and realised that you really can have anything you want if you are willing to do what it takes to get it. I meet so many people who have become bitter about what is possible in love, and this seems sad to me as bitterness is a sign that you have closed the door. I saw a documentary last week and one woman (at age 85) was describing how much she missed her husband. They had met when she was 72, married at 74 and their 10 years of marriage were the best years of her life.
So what is the key to persistence?
I will let you in on the key to persistence; although if you have read this far you have shown that you already possess some of the powers necessary!
The key to persistence is a two word question that will give you everything you need on your journey to great adventures. When you are need to persist against the odds ask yourself…
You are one step closer to your goal… what’s next?
You feel like you have done everything you can and you are about to fail… what’s next?
You don’t know what to do… what’s next?
You are overwhelmed and it is all too much… what’s next?
“What’s next?” Is the access to having it all, it is a teeny tiny super question that unlocks the keys to your universe as powerfully as “Why??” did when you were 3 years old.
What’s next? Is the acknowledgement that there is always something more, that there is always another step that you can take if you choose it.
So over to you… What’s next?!
PS. This blog took 15 hours over 2 weeks to write. Mainly because I reluctantly threw out the original persistence blog and the pretty chart I made for you and started again from scratch. (The irony wasn’t lost on me!) There were however two mentions from that version that I would really like to include in this post, so here is the bonus bit for your reading pleasure…
Two of my clients are perfect examples of being unstoppable despite of the challenges you face…
The first, Charlotte, has created a wonderfully positive internet community Happyzine, whilst raising her young son. With each call I am reminded that managing energetic toddlers and managing the finer details of a business is no mean feat, let alone doing them both at the same time. Yet her passion for the business and love for her son sees everything looked after with a level of energy, grace and humour that constantly amazes me.
The second, John, had an epiphany at 54 to take on the issue of carbon emissions in Australia with his project Ride The Talk. In July he will leave his family, mount his bicycle and ride for 6 months around Australia giving talks in over 70 cities on how normal people can reduce their energy consumption and energy bills. His goal is to reduce carbon emissions in Australia by 50% by 2020. I have had the pleasure of witnessing John’s pursuit of this goal from the outset. His passion and dedication to the outcome is transforming him into someone who is courageously unstoppable.
To make the most of this bonus check out their websites and see the work of two inspiringly persistent and gutsy people who I admire.
Business Coach – Serena Star-Leonard – Star Coaching
I have always had a healthy belief that if you really want to do what you love for a living you can find a way to make it work for you (and done right make it work really well for you!). My coaching practice is designed to guide people who understand that there is something more to life than working 9-5 and who are driven to do something about it.
Recently I noticed that many people were trying to use the internet to create alternate sources of income but made the same costly mistakes time and time again. So much so that I partnered up and created Grassroots Internet Strategy, a small business resource that helps people understand what they really need to know and plan for.
If you have a burning desire to either start or expand I would love to hear from you…