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Saturday, 09 November 2013 09:41

Perseverance: the underestimated skill of the successful

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There is a trap it is easy to fall into and, if you fall into it, you will lose out on many opportunities in life. This is the trap in which you look at successful people and assume they are the lucky ones. You may think they get all their ideas right first time and never have had any problems in achieving what they have. Your impression may be reinforced by the media’s continuous portrayal of successful people leading completely perfect lives: they never faced roadblocks, they never trip up, and they are never bored. You could not be more wrong if you think like this.

 Successful people encounter problems just like you do

The simple truth is that most successful people have not become successful because they have had no problems, but because they did not let them stop them. They persevere in the face of problems. Whether those problems are major roadblocks, ongoing minor niggles that after a while become frustrating, or simply the tedium of pursuing the same thing intensely day after day.

The next time you are trying to get something exciting done, don’t give up when the something goes wrong. Expect problems to arise. The more challenging your dreams are and the larger your ambitions, the more likely it is that you will face problems in achieving them. Knowing that something will go wrong makes you less likely to be put off when difficulties occur.

View the fact that you are facing a difficulty as a sign that you are making progress. It is only because you have made some progress that the problem arises. When this happens, don’t frown, instead have an inward smile and think – “oh I am really getting somewhere as I’m finding these key problems”. Solve them, one by one, and you will achieve what you want.

The good news is that few problems are truly insurmountable. There is usually a solution to any issue or a way around it. It will take some thought and effort to find, but you will feel great when you do find it. After all, if what you wanted to do was easy it would not be much of an achievement. It is perseverance in overcoming problems that makes achievements so valuable.


Dealing with problems

There are lots of ways of resolving problems, and each unique issue has a unique solution. However, there are some simple principles for dealing with them: 

1.Think before acting: some problems can be avoided simply by thinking before acting. When you are going to do something challenging, think through what is most likely to go wrong. If you do this, you will find that many problems can be avoided in the first place.

2.Avoid making your own problems: Some problems are caused by ourselves. Ask yourself: are you really doing the work? It’s easy to kid yourself when you are just not putting in the necessary effort. Are you using the right people resources to help you? If you need help, ask for it! If you are working with other people, do they really understand what you are trying to achieve? Only you know what’s in your head unless you take the time to clearly explain it to everyone else. Are you being paranoid and over thinking what you are trying to do and inventing problems that do not really exist? It’s very easy to invent problems that do not really exist!

3.Focus on the problems you must fix: even if you do great job at applying the principles we shared, some problems will still occur. When they do, make sure you are clear what the problem really is before you start trying to resolve it. Think it through, break big problems down into small ones, and sort it out one step at a time.

4.Accept that sometimes things will be dull: it can be a surprise to find out that even the thing that is closest to your heart will occasionally be boring. Great athletes don’t enjoy every second of their daily training routines. Sometimes they find it tedious. One of their skills is to keep going in spite of the tedium. You must learn to push through the boredom barrier as well.


Perseverance takes practice

Success is not about avoiding problems - it is about perseverance and overcoming them. If you really want to learn from the most successful people, rather than enviously dreaming about their success, try to find out about the problems they faced on the way and how they overcame them. You’ll learn lots more than by reading about their achievements and how perfect their lives are.

Perseverance takes practice. We are all daunted by problems on occasions. But the more problems you face, the more you will resolve. The more problems you have resolved, the better you will become at resolving them quickly and, as important, the less worried you will be when new ones arise.

This article was written with Ciprian Rusen, and is an enhanced version of an article that was originally written for the site Dumb Little Man. It is based on materials in our book Dream It, Do It, Live It.


Read 109667 times Last modified on Sunday, 10 November 2013 09:50
Richard Newton

Richard Newton wears many hats. Included amongst these are his work as a consultant, author, blogger, change leader, company director, and program manager. His most well known project management book is The Project Manager: Mastering the Art of Delivery. He is also the author of the best-selling Dream It, Do It, Live It which applies project management principles to achieving personal dreams.

His articles and blogs can be followed at www.changinghats.com. Information about his company can be found at www.enixus.co.uk. His books are available at bookshops and online sellers worldwide.

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