The Key

Ask any performer what is the key to her or his success and I bet a majority will say, ‘perseverance’.  They just stuck with it audition after audition until they reached the success they wanted.

Now, replace the word ‘performer’ in the sentence about with almost any other profession or activity. Then replace ‘audition’ in the second sentence with whatever that new profession or activity needs to do repeatedly to be successful.

  • Lawyer – litigation
  • Artist – drawing
  • Runner – race
  • Accountant – tax return
  • Pitcher – pitch
  • Baker – cake
  • Yogi – pose

You get the idea. What endeavor is it possible to succeed in without repeated effort in the same direction? None.


Now, take one of the professions above (or add your own if it’s not listed) and ask yourself what is the likelihood that each and every audition, litigation, drawing, race, tax return, pitch, cake, or pose will have been done perfectly every time on that road to success?  None.

What does that mean? It means that perseverance is not just about continuing to do something. It’s continuing to do something you are failing at. That you are no good at.  That others do better than you. That people criticize you for.  That you have no guarantee you will succeed at.

What does it take to have that sort of perseverance?  Belief that it is what you are supposed to be doing, in spite of what it looks like at any one moment.

A Little Help From Your Friends

Last fall I had a runner in one of my running groups who was training for her first marathon. She had some seriously hard training runs that wiped her out and made her decide she just didn’t have it in her to do a full marathon. She told the group via Facebook that she was bummed and was going to switch to half marathon training. The response was an outpouring of ‘oh, have I been in your shoes before!’ comments.  There was comment after comment talking about how she was bound to have crappy, hard times during a long season and that they knew she would be able to turn it around with a little tweak to her training, a little change in her mindset, a little prop up from her friends.

And she listened to us and stuck with the program. And 6 weeks later she ran her marathon and felt great about it. What was that? That was the way most people are able to persevere, with a little help from their friends.

Reach Out

So, if you are doubting yourself and your path but you really know you are supposed to be on it, then don’t be alone. Reach out and get that encouragement, that advice, that shoulder to cry on. Get whatever you need to keep going. Help is out there and it wants to help you.

Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman |

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer



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