Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.Calvin Coolidge

Persistence, it worked when we were little. Why do we give up so easily now?

Persistence – it worked  so well when we were little. Why do we give up so easily now?

What does that mean?
This, as is frequently the case, is a Twitter-friendly excerpt. The more complete quote is as follows:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

This is, in my opinion, one of the strong suits of the human race. The other species don’t have enough free time to pursue an idea to fruition, as we so often do.

Whether it is finding a better way to separate metal from ore, or a more efficient way to quarry and move large blocks of stone, we just keep at it.

We solve these problems one small bit at a time, and pass that information to the next generation of problem-solvers. In this manner we work our way towards the solution, however slowly it may be.

Why is persistence and determination important?
In ancient times, it might take a generation or two to get just one step closer to your goal. Today, if there is a business case for getting there sooner, an entire army of scientists, engineers and technicians will take up the challenge and break it down in months instead of decades.

Consider how long man has dreamt of flying. Egyptians thought of it, the Greeks made a story out of it, and the black-and-white movies of the attempts from the late 1800s are a you-tube sensation. Yet today, it is a given that we can go nearly anywhere, for a price. We kept at it, we pressed on.

Whether it is scientific discovery or exploration, digging into what makes the universe tick, or what makes humans tick, we just don’t give up. It is, I imagine, a mixture of curiosity and persistence which helps propel us ever forward, for better or for worse.

Consider your own life, and what the rewards for persistence have been for you. Whether it was something in your social life, your work life, or in some other part of our lives, we all have stories of how we persevered and eventually, after some trial and tribulation, achieved what we desired. It’s human nature.

Where can I apply this in my life?
Humans seem to be very curious creatures, and been that way for a long time. Consider how long it took to figure out how the stars moved. Generation after generation toiled to figure that out, each generation adding or subtracting from the knowledge, as they felt was appropriate.

No matter what the question was, we found better and better ways to do anything we (collectively) considered important. In the days of Ancient Greece, the Peloponnesian Peninsula had a very narrow attachment to the mainland, but it took days to sail around to get from one side to another.

They made a way to haul boats up onto the land and drag them across the narrow peninsula and get them back in the water in a fraction of the time it took to go all the way around. Trade boomed. Every kind of cargo could get there faster and less expensively than going the long way around.

Today, there is a canal cut through that part of the peninsula, so they don’t have to haul the ships up onto land and pull them up and through the hills. With the discovery of dynamite, whole new opportunities were made available to us. Their dream was realized in a scale only imagined by the gods of ancient times.

Today, we have companies doing research, universities busy digging into the past, the present, as well as the future. And we just keep going. Even Einstein wasn’t the final word on anything. Every theory is challenged and tested. Flaws are examined, and equations modified or discarded. And then we do it again.

But in our own lives, how easily do we give up? Most people, outside of a few passionately held goals, give up far too easily. People with talent still give up. People with great knowledge and ability still give up. Only the persistent rise to the top, and are given a chance to be remembered.

Where in your life have you given up? There are countless examples through out history of people persisting and getting what they want, if only through persistence. It is something we knew as small children, when we kept getting up as we tried to walk, then to run. Some of us found it worked on parents as well.

We all have times when we are weak. That is part of being human. But so is being persistent. Getting back to something we gave up on might not always be the best thing to do, but if you gave up in frustration, perhaps you should revisit it, and see if you could do better now.

Persistence pays off later, and laziness pays off now. That is the eternal struggle of humanity. Industriousness versus sloth. Ambition versus relaxation. There are days when we swing more towards one, and days when the other wins. But, so long as we persevere past these minor issues, we will attain the things for which we strive.

Stay strong, and remember, press on!

From: Twitter, @goutallier
confirmed at : final quote in ’30s
Photo by kurt

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