Examples of perseverance can be found in each of our daily lives, from the work we put into a job even though the outlook of promotion is dim to our physical fitness routine that has yet to provide any visible results. We persevere when bad weather threatens to cancel an outdoor birthday party. We persevere when we go through a rough time in our marriages and we must fight for its longevity. As a species that has fought for survival for hundreds of thousands of years, we are hardwired to persevere.
Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as "continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failures, or opposition". Looking at this description, it is interesting to note that the core force behind persevering is simply effort. It's not age, height, race, intelligence, or even birth status. It's sweat and pure desire. Those who have been successful have, more times than not, faced tremendous failure in their lives, and they've been forced to persevere through that failure.
A number of tremendously successful individuals have experienced their fair share of failure. As motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins said, "People are rewarded in public for what they do for years in private". What this means is that we often see the fruit of someone's effort but rarely do we understand the struggle that the individual went through to achieve that success, nor do we know the number of times that they failed. Here is a list of people who have truly embraced the power of perseverance:
1. Walt Disney - The mind behind the beloved Mickey Mouse and so many others once experienced a slew of failures in his career. In 1919, Disney was fired from a Kansas City newspaper because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas". Shortly after, he bought out an animation company called Laugh-O-Gram, which ultimately succumbed to Disney's lack of financial responsibility and went bankrupt. It wasn't until Walt Disney closed the business and moved to California that he experienced success. Using the lessons learned from a failed business, Disney founded the Walt Disney Co.
2. Henry Ford - We all know the name behind one of the most successful automotive companies in the world, and you may even know that Ford was the creative mind behind using the assembly line as well as the five-day workweek to increase productivity. But Ford was not an overnight success. Have you ever heard of the Detroit Automobile Company? Unless you're a Ford historian, probably not. This was the first car company founded by Henry Ford, and it went bankrupt shortly after its creation. Later, he founded the Henry Ford Company. While this bears his name, it was not the Ford Company we've come to know. This business went under as well (eventually being bought out and changed to Cadillac), but Ford was allowed to leave the company with the rights to the name.
3. Kyle Maynard - Kyle's name may not be one that you are familiar with, as he is not quite as famous as Henry Ford or Walt Disney. That being said, I strongly suggest that you Google his name and learn his story, because it encapsulates the true essence of perseverance better than any story I've heard. Kyle was born with a condition known as congenital amputation, meaning that his arms and legs end right about where another person's elbows or knee caps would be. Do you think this has stopped Kyle from living a normal life? No, quite the contrary. Kyle Maynard has used this situation to propel himself to accomplish wonderful feats of human strength and motivation. When he was only 11-years-old, he played football on his local team. He's fought in mixed martial arts, he's become a world-renowned public speaker, and he recently became the first quadruple amputee to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro without the aid of prosthetic limbs.
These are only three examples of the power of perseverance, but the list goes on and on. Jim Carrey was once booed off stage before making it big. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series was turned down by 12 publishers before finally being accepted. Multi-platinum rap artist Jay-Z was rejected by every record label in the business before he started his own label and went on to sell over a million records of his debut album.
What do all of these people have in common? Were they all born with a different strand in their DNA that enabled them to achieve success where others have failed? Of course not. They simply refused to give up. They put forth the effort that was necessary until they accomplished what they had set out to do. Failing, to these people and to everyone who achieves their goals, does not make them a failure. Instead, Henry Ford and Walt Disney used their failed businesses as opportunities to learn and grow. They took those lessons and continued on.
So look at what it is that you truly desire. What dream is deep inside of you that you've been too afraid to announce or share with your friends and family? And maybe it's something that you've already attempted but failed at. Good....That means you're one step closer to success. But you have to be willing to get back up and try again. I know there's a piece of you that wants to accomplish that goal, but you have to be willing to persevere. You have to be willing to try again and fail. Because living a life filled with fear and constant caution is no life at all. So go...try...fail....and persevere.