You can outlast those who are lucky and out-work those who are lazy. – Jeff Goins
What does that mean?
This quote talks briefly about the two primary ways to get ahead in life. You can work hard, or you can get lucky. This quote gives us some ideas how to do even better than that.
It starts by implying that with perseverance, we can outlast those who got ahead by luck. They didn’t do anything to get there, so they can’t do it again, and eventually, with perseverance, we will get ahead of them.
It then implies that with perseverance, we can get past those who lack it, or who are lazy. While they are relaxing, thinking, plotting, planing, or making excuses, if we work, we will get ahead of them.
In short, it says if we keep working, and make informed choices, and learn from our mistakes, the only thing keeping us from eventually getting ahead is ourselves.
Why is perseverance important?
Normally in a post about perseverance, I discuss how as babies we persevered in learning to crawl, walk and run; to eat, to feed ourselves and to cut our own food; to make noises, to talk and to communicate effectively. But this quote is from a blog about writing, and I thought I’d talk about things we do as adults instead.
How hard to you try for a date with that special someone? Even the times you practice in your mind, even if you never talk to them, that counts. Even if you never talk to them, have you ever noticed that some of what you practiced eventually shows up in a later conversation with someone else?
And the opposite of persevere, of course, is quitting or giving up. Somewhere between is where most of us live. We do it for a while, then start to slack off. What comes next? You aren’t sure, so you pause for a moment. Then a moment becomes a day, and a day becomes a week. That’s not good.
That is part of why, when I started this blog, I posted every day. For three years straight, with occasional breaks of a day or two. Just look at the archive list on the side. The number it the parenthesis is the number of posts that month. That is what perseverance looks like, even though I’ve dropped to three a week for the foreseeable future.
Perseverance gets it done. Nothing else comes close, not even luck.
Where can I apply this in my life?
Not everyone wants to write a blog. And many start, and then fail to persevere. The number of dead blogs out there is staggering. I even have a dead blog which I used to document a prior attempt at physical fitness. Such is life. But I imagine that all of us have something we want to do which is a long-term goal.
Whether it is starting a blog, doing a project car, planning a wedding, or working on some other long term goal, the one thing which will be required more than anything else is perseverance. You don’t need skill, you can hone that along the way. You don’t need knowledge, you can learn as you go, and learning from your mistakes is part of life.
But if you don’t keep at it, you won’t finish. You have to work to get ahead of those who are lazy. It won’t do to become one of the lazy people, will it? You will have to work to outlast those who got ahead because of some good fortune, right? But if you do nothing, they will always be ahead of you.
And even if you’re only competing against yourself, you still have to do something to continue to make progress. Without that drive to persevere, you will eventually slow down and stop. So the question becomes, “What can be done to find that spark which will keep you focused and energized?
That spark is usually either discipline or emotion. Are you going to do it no matter what? Or are you truly passionate about getting something done? It usually takes one or the other, and sometimes a mix of both, if you are going to persevere. The stronger the emotion, the stiffer the resolve, the more likely you are to make it.
What have you started, and then given up on finishing? Not the things which have been overcome by events, like playing professional sports (unless you’re still young enough and good enough to do it), but things like learning another language or getting back into the music scene. Try to find at least three or four things you want back in your life.
Now consider each one separately. Why do you have to do this? What reason or emotion is so strong that you know that, no matter what, you will persevere and complete it? Can you come up with at least two reasons for each of those activities, tasks, or goals? The stronger or more numerous they are, the more likely you are to get it done.