The Power of Perseverance

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



Taking the Shortcut – Evil #4

It really is, isn’t it.

  • In relationships, staying loyal is harder than going out and having an affair.
  • In school, studying hard and not cheating is harder than the opposite.
  • In sports, practicing and honing your skill is harder than taking performance enhancing drugs.
  • In work, working diligently and learning your craft is harder than padding your resume with false experiences and degrees.

So, the question is: why not take the shortcut? Why not cheat, steal, enhance, fake, lie?  One obvious answer is, of course, getting caught.  But beyond that what reasons are there?  How about living with yourself? You can’t escape your own conscience and you can’t escape your own awareness of being a cheater.  Knowing those things about yourself has consequences. You don’t act the same, work the same, love the same when you have guilt driving your thoughts. You will lash out defensively when it makes no sense for you to do so. You will be paranoid. You will always struggle with it.

But if you walk the straight and narrow road and everyone else cheats, aren’t you playing on an uneven playing field? Others get ahead while you slog away in the trenches, not making the same progress? That’s not fair, right? No, it’s not. But the answer isn’t cheating. The answer is believing that living a right life is its own reward.  You get to live with your conscience clear, whether or not someone else does better than you.  You get to be on solid ground.

There is a story that Jesus taught illustrating this.

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Now, I am not suggesting you have to obey a certain set of biblical rules by telling this story. What I am saying is that a clear conscience and a solid ethic will hold you up throughout your life much better shortcuts, a guilty conscience and an opportunistic and selfish ethic.

Drawing © 2017 Marty Coleman |

“Wickedness is always easier than virtue; for it takes the shortcut to everything.” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

Friends Through Life – Friendship #2


Purchase the original | purchase a print | matte and frame available

The New Friend

Last year there was a woman who came into our running group. She was enthusiastic, positive, friendly and caring.  I thought from the first that she must have already known a number of the other runners. But no, she told me she had just moved here by herself only recently. She told me she had done it many times before and had learned that if she was to enjoy her life as a single woman in new locations she would have to make a deliberate effort to go out and meet people. She did this by joining groups, in this case our running group. And sure enough she gathered a group of good friends in short order.

The Gone Friend

Then she moved.  Just like that she was gone. Now, in the social media world people aren’t really ever gone, right? So, neither is she. I read her Facebook posts from her new location and guess what she is now enjoying?  She is now a hiker and a climber in the Rocky Mountains outside of Denver. And there is photo after photo of her with new friends she met in a hiking group she joined.

The True Friend

One other aspect of her appearance on the scene that I noted. She did not join our running group just to make friends, she also joined so she could be a friend. It wasn’t just her getting her friendship needs met, it was also about what she could offer others. In other words she gave as much as she got.

The Courageous Friend

Now, she is an extrovert and makes friends easy. I know not everyone is like that. But everyone still has a need for friendship and everyone still has to take responsibility for finding those friends, now matter what your personality type. If you move to a new place, get a new job, or enter a new phase of life, chances are people are not going to come out of the woodwork to befriend you. Even if they do, you have to decide to accept and contribute to that friendship.

It takes some courage to go out and make friends, but the results are worth the challenge.

Drawing and commentary © 2016 Marty Coleman |

Quote by me, adapted from one by Samuel Johnson


The Glory of our ‘Problems’ – A Fitness and Photography Story



misfortunes #1 2014


The Problem

Yesterday I did a photo shoot in a park filled with gigantic rocks and steep, narrow trails. There were gnarled tree roots trailing all over the ground and the rocks, loose branches and dirt were everywhere, and the heat was well into the 90s.  My friend and model, Brittany, was doing yoga poses for me in what was essentially a scouting trip for a future group photo shoot I will lead later this year.  

I investigated the park beforehand and found it was a mecca for local rock climbers. As I read up on that I found something interesting.  Each rock climb a person does seems to be called a ‘Problem’.  And that makes sense to me. It’s a problem to be solved. How to get up and get down the rock.

Suffering for Art

We had a great time and got some fantastic shots.  At the very end we had to ascend a pretty steep trail covered with roots. I had a two photo bags and attempted to make it up without putting them down. Brittany even asked if she should hold them while I went up. As I said no, I lost my balance and fell/slid back down the trail. I only went down maybe 10-15 feet so it was no big deal but somehow I hyperextended my left middle finger and got a small gash on my palm while trying to hold on to my bags and catch my balance.  I then gave her the bags and tried again, successfully this time.

The finger felt pretty stiff and it didn’t want to bend all that much. But I knew it wasn’t broken so we finished up the shoot and went and had a nice lunch. I showed it to my wife when she got home last night. It was the illustration for my narrative about the shoot and the environment. 

The Hard Working Muse

Brittany meanwhile escaped without injury. But she didn’t escape without plenty of ‘problems’. She did incredibly hard work hiking, climbing and posing in heat that was above 90º by the time we were done.  She balanced on very high rocks.  She crawled under low tree limbs through the dirt.  She held intense poses on undulating tree roots halfway up rock faces. She planked over dry gullies while perched on two small flat rocks feet away from each other. All the while she was trying her best to look good, pose well, keep from slipping due to sweat being all over her, keep from laughing, keep from keeling over from dehydration (we had plenty of water, don’t worry. But it was REALLY hot!) .  She figured out the solution to a multitude of problems. It was amazing to watch her work.

Here is one of the photos of Brittany to give you an idea of what it was like.


Brittany Doing Yoga

Parsva Bakasana – Side Crane Pose




What Remains

Sometimes misfortune or ‘problem’ is what we really remember.  Brittany and I will always have the photos to view years later, and that will be great. But the story we tell about the day will be filled with how difficult and harsh the environment was and how much fun we had finding the solutions to the multitude of problems we set for ourselves.

 That is the essence of great storytelling after all, right?



Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709 – 1784, English 


“Depend on it that if a man talks about his misfortunes there is something in them that is not disagreeable to him.”

Catastrophe #3 – What has escaped

It’s day #3 of Catastrophe Week at the NDD.  Remember that even if your world is normal today, there are plenty of people in the world, Japan in particular, for whom this is still another very bad day.
Easy for me to say.  I am not suffering in the cold of northeast Japan with no water, no electricity, barely any food, family missing, and a very real threat of nuclear contamination.

If I were my thoughts wouldn’t stay long on what I have escaped. My thoughts and actions would turn to survival, finding what my family and I need.

But here’s the thing.  It doesn’t say make the escape thought your only thought, just that you make it your first. Why? Because it brings your heart and mind into a grateful attitude. That attitude will help you hold to what is good as you move into your hunt to survive.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, British author

One year ago today at the NDD – Luck Affects Everything

Marriage – Be Silent! #2


Your relationship needs this coffee cup

The intelligent people are the quiet ones. The strong, silent type is the epitome of the desired male.  One should listen twice as much as they talk.  All very nice sentiments, but the truth is in a relationship talking (and listening) is crucial.  If you don’t speak, if you don’t say what is going on, it becomes the rule. And you could very easily have a sorry end to the relationship as a result.

Sometimes one doesn’t talk because they feel the reaction will be negative, defensive, or angry. Those are actually understandable reasons to not want to communicate feelings, emotions and ideas.  No one likes to be dismissed, lectured or put down when they share vulnerable things.

It often takes courage to talk in a relationship, but the alternative is a deep seated frustration. It is ultimately unhealthy for oneself and the relationship.  Talk, even if it is scary.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English writer

Gratitude is the Fruit

I am grateful today is day#2 of Gratitude Week at The NDD.

What makes a person gross?  Do you see a connection between your understanding of that term and lack of gratitude?  What does ‘great cultivation’ mean? Explain.

Drawing by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English author (and more!)

Every Man’s Affairs – updated 2018

Have you ever told a story about something big that has happened to you and a person listening will shyly say something like that happened to them too, but on a much smaller scale? They speak with the feeling their event wasn’t really worthy compared to yours. It was inconsequential, unimportant. It might have been an accident, or a home improvement project, or meeting a minor celebrity versus meeting a major one.

When that happens to me I always try to listen and reassure the person that what they went through, their ‘event’, was important, even if it was small in the grand scheme of things. Because after all, what event isn’t small in the grand scheme of things, no matter how large you think it is?
This is especially true when talking to teenagers and young people. Their events might not be as dramatic and big as yours, but they are that big to them! Treat their events as important and big, don’t denigrate them just because they aren’t on the scale you have experienced.
Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman
“Every man’s affairs, however little, are important to himself.” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English author

Men More Frequently – updated 2017

But this is the wrong way to do it. If you are a wife or a boss, a girlfriend or a co-worker, reminding someone is an act of kindness, not one of anger.

I know with me I am not intentionally forgetting something when I can’t remember. I am not testing someone, I am not out to annoy someone. I am simply not remembering.

What I need, and I suspect most men need, is to be reminded in a simple, non-judgmental and neutral way, what it is I might be forgetting. That might be an appointment, or a thank you card I am supposed to write, or a home improvement project I let slide.

Nobody needs to be harangued and nagged about stuff. They need a partner or partners to help them achieve what the need and want to achieve (or to just find the car keys).

Is this only true about men? No, of course not. It really doesn’t matter the gender, the attitude of care and help is what matters.

Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman

“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English author

One Is Apt – updated 2017

While this may be true of those looking up with envy, the quote actually made me think of those who are higher up. For every person we see above us, there is someone who didn’t rise as far. What is your attitude towards them? Are you looked at as that person who is ungrateful? Have you considered who helped you and the gratitude you owe them?

Maybe it is the administrative assistant who first helped you understand the complexities of office politics. Now that you are a manager, are you still paying attention to that person?

Maybe it is a family member who first showed you how to use a camera and explained how to organize your photos. She remained a hobby photographer. You have gone on to professional photography, but have you stopped to thank that person for helping you on your way?

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman

“One is apt to complain of the ingratitude of those who have risen far above oneself.” – Samuel Johnson, 1709-1784, English Author

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