Persist until you succeed
“Few things are impossible to diligence and skill; great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” SAMUEL JOHNSON
BY: SHABIR AHMAD
Every great success in your life will represent a triumph of persistence. Your ability to decide what you want, to begin, and then to persist through all obstacles and difficulties until you achieve your goals is the critical determinant of your success.
The flipside of persistence is courage. Perhaps the greatest challenge that you will ever face in life is the conquest of fear and the development of the habit of courage. Winston Churchill once wrote, “Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it all others depend.”
Fear is, and always has been, the greatest enemy of mankind. When Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was saying that the emotion of fear, rather than the reality of what we fear, is what causes us anxiety, stress, and unhappiness.
When you develop the habit of courage and unshakable self-confidence, a whole new world of possibilities opens up for you. Just think—what would you dare to dream or be or do if you weren’t afraid of anything in the whole world?
Fortunately, the habit of courage can be learned just as any other success skill is learned. To do so, you need to work to conquer your fears while simultaneously building up the kind of courage and confidence that will enable you to deal unafraid with the inevitable ups and downs of life. Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life, and when it comes, hold your head high. Look it squarely in the eye, and say, ‘I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.’ This is the kind of attitude that leads to victory.
The starting point in overcoming fear and developing courage is, first of all, to look at the factors that predispose us toward being afraid. As we know, the root source of fear is childhood conditioning, usually destructive criticism from one or both parents. This causes us to experience two types of fear. These are, first of all, the fear of failure, which causes us to think, “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”; and second, the fear of rejection, which causes us to think, “I have to, I have to, I have to.”
Because of these fears, we become preoccupied with the fear of losing our money or our time or our emotional investment in a relationship. We become hypersensitive to the opinions and possible criticisms of others, sometimes to the point where we are afraid to do anything that anyone else might disapprove of. Our fears tend to paralyze us, holding us back from taking constructive action in the direction of our dreams and goals. We hesitate. We become indecisive. We procrastinate. We make excuses and find reasons to delay. And finally, we feel frustrated, caught in the double bind of “I have to, but I can’t” or “I can’t, but I have to.”
Fear can be caused by ignorance. When we have limited information, we may be tense and insecure about the outcome of our actions. Ignorance causes us to fear change, to fear the unknown, and to avoid trying anything new or different. But the reverse is also true.
All intelligent people are afraid of something. It is normal and natural to be concerned about your physical, emotional, and financial survival. The courageous person is not a person who is unafraid.
When you confront your fears and move toward what you are afraid of, your fears diminish while at the same time your self-esteem and self-confidence increase. However, when you avoid what you fear, your fears grow until they begin to control every aspect of your life. And as your fears increase, your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your self-respect diminish accordingly.
You can begin the process of developing courage and eliminating fear by engaging in actions consistent with the behaviours’ of courage and self-confidence. Anything that you practice over and over eventually becomes a new habit.
The future belongs to the risk-takers, not to the security-seekers. Life is perverse in the sense that the more you seek security, the less of it you have. But the more you seek opportunity, the more likely it is that you will achieve the security that you desire.
Whenever you feel fear or anxiety and you need to bolster your courage to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks, switch your attention to your goals. Create a clear mental picture of the person that you would like to be, performing the way you would like to perform. Nothing is wrong with thoughts of fear as long as you temper them with thoughts of courage and self-reliance. Whatever you dwell upon grows—so be careful.
The mastery of fear and the development of courage are essential prerequisites for a happy, successful life. With a commitment to acquire the habit of courage, you will eventually reach the point where your fears no longer play a major role in your decision making.
The single most important quality for success is self-discipline. Self-discipline means that you have the ability, within yourself, based on your strength of character and willpower, to do what you should do, when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not.
An interesting and important paradox in life that you need to be aware of is that if you are an intelligent person, you do everything possible to organize your life in such a way that you minimize and avoid adversity and disappointment. This is a sensible and rational thing to do. All intelligent people, following the path of least resistance to achieve their goals, do everything possible to minimize the number of difficulties and obstacles that they will face in their day-to-day activities. Yet, in spite of our best efforts, disappointments and adversity are normal and natural, unavoidable parts of life.
The power to hold on in spite of everything, to endure this is the winner’s quality. Persistence is the ability to face defeat again and again, without giving up, to push on in the face of great difficulty.
(The Author is a Freelance Writer from Raiyar Doodhpathri. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)