Perseverance, the Cousin of Resilience | In-Between the Pages

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We’re All In (Image: Shawn Ward)

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. – B.C. Forbes, Founder of Forbes Magazine

Perseverance. Sounds like the same as resilience and it is very close. Someone with perseverance creates their own resistance which is a great skill to add when building or working on resiliency. With your work on becoming more resilient you will learn to take rejection in much better stride by building perseverance skills.

The last few posts about resilience we’ve talked a lot about rediscovering what really matters to push you through adversity and defeat. We’re going to dive in about what skilled and unskilled use of perseverance is through my own stories with it. Also, a few ideas or practices to build a stronger use of perseverance.

Someone who has the skill of perseverance shows a strong ability to bring everything they got to the game. You see in them a drive and energy that moves through the entire struggle they face. A very strong need to finish what they start, it’s in their posture and the way they carry themselves through the project. You hear excitement and see animation in their articulation when you ask them to talk about it. They seldom give up before finishing. If they do give up, it’s because they’ve learned it’s the wrong fight and they’ve probably moved on to the right one.

Someone who doesn’t have the skill seems to lack drive and has the attitude of wanting to just do it to be done with it. They really have an energy that gives your the impression they really don’t want to be there. There is no fire when they talk about it. In that fire’s place is an attitude of taking the task at hand very personally. The seem to go for less than more. You will never see them go for a third or fifth try, they just give up.

The quote I started this post with from B.C. really sets the stage for me. Some of my very best moments and accomplishments in my life have been when I’ve had to really push myself to break through and finish or go at a goal multiple times to win. My first marathon this year as an example took me 5 years of running to finish. A lot of 5k races that I won and lost. A lot of 10k races that I won and lost. Then an entire year of half marathons that I didn’t place in at all with finishes. Eventually I had learned enough about running. I still had the passion to want to run a marathon. Then in June 2017, I finished in just over 4 hours something only .5% of the population in the United States did this year themselves.

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I don’t look proud, but I was. Very emotional day. (Image: Mary Ward)

Sticking to my course and especially in the face of all those losses I had, is what perseverance is all about. Because of that work, I have become more resilient than ever and perseverance is a skill that I have tapped into over and over again to win. Perseverance during my runs helped me learn all the different ways to get things done and gave me a thicker skin (resilience) to move through some of the hardest obstacles I’ve ever encountered in my life.

I learned three great lessons during my work through perseverance that helped me really use this skill well:

  • How to stay focused and take rejection in the right perspective
  • Fight the right battles
  • Rediscover what really matters to myself frequently and often along the journey

Taking rejection personally left me dead in the water when I let it invade my best work. When I didn’t have peers our friends that wanted to help me or said NO, it was hard to let that go. I had to develop a philosophical stance to rejection which helped me not take it personal. I remember when one day I just shifted my thought process from a negative one to a positive one. Instead of woe is me, it was looking for the learn or positive in the rejection. Most innovations fail and you have to understand that. Changing your perspective inwardly and really having inner dialogue with that resistance to your cause is normal, not abnormal. Tony Robbins said this:

“Problems are what makes us grow. The problem is, we don’t think we should have them.”

Fighting the right battles I learned while trying to PR some of the races I was running over the years. As you can imagine there were a lot of times I didn’t PR. And, as I stated above an entire year where I ran half marathons and didn’t place in my age group one time. I learned to let go of wanting to PR and just love the run itself. Getting a PR during my training stopped being the critical thing I needed to make it to my first marathon, the actual running was. You will find that in your own work. If you would just take the time to really pause and reflect frequently along the way, you would see it too. What’s mission critical for you? Work on that and let everything else go. Fight the battle that makes sense, not nonsense.

Year three I had a serious battle where my heart didn’t seem to be in it. I was done spending hours on running. I wanted to play video games, chill, and just wanted to use my time in other hobbies or focuses. I was ready to tap out. I had to take a time out and have a very serious conversation with myself. I made a conscious list of my likes and dislikes on a white board. I took that eraser and swiped out all the dislikes, and moved all the likes into my tasks. I made an extreme effort to check in frequently to what really matters in my training and runs. I amped up my liked tasks and when I had one I didn’t like that I had to accomplish for the training, I didn’t focus on the task. Instead, I focused on the accomplishment of the disliked task. That got me through the year and back on track. Year four, I took it to the next stage, half marathons. By June of 2017, I ran the marathon and finished at the time I wanted to.

Some really quick exercises I learned that could help you strengthen your perseverance and build tougher resilience is below:

  • Take a task you dislike to do and focus not on the task, but the accomplishment
  • Take on a project that others have failed at, bring a community approach to tackling it
  • Work on a crisis management project or work stream, look for a need in your community and go for it
  • Create a symbol for change, blog it, and get it out there for others to learn from it

I’ll end with a thought from Einstein:

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.

This is the deep dive post for the week in our resilience series. Hope you enjoyed reading it. Drop some comments or email me with your own stories. Love to read them. More important, everyone that views this post would love to read them.

Have a great Friday!

Shawn

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