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Persistence, Strategy & Belief Applied to Life & Work

It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage that we move on to better things.
Theodore Roosevelt.

For most people who try to achieve anything in their personal or professional lives, the biggest challenge they have is that they do not understand this fundamental truth. Much has been said in favor of the value of persistence, but how many people actually do persist in anything?

We all want results to be quick and easy. What is worse, modern advertising is geared to reinforce this notion and promise us precisely that. Who wants to hear that the only proven way to lose weight is (1) eat less, (2) exercise more?! Indeed, if anything takes effort and hard work, we might be inclined to feel that, rather than this being the norm, we must surely be doing something wrong!

I have a recent case in point. Someone I know recently decided that he was going to start selling items on eBay. This came as a major surprise to me since he has so far almost gone out of his way to avoid Internet involvement, and does not know the simplest thing about it, e.g. how to click a link on a web page or even in an email. Nevertheless, I was impressed that he somehow actually managed to list an auction, sell an item, and get positive feedback too.

However, the whole process is fraught with difficulty and stress and I feel that, however I might wish him well, he is bound to fail. Why? Because he still does not understand the first thing about Internet navigation! If there is a page with a button and the button says, “Click here to do X,” he will not click it, or even realize that he is supposed to. Moreover, he will not get serious about what he is doing and treat it professionally. In other words, you might expect a person to engage in a steady detailed learning process to master what he does not know, start small, experience some success, and then build on it. But he won’t.

Instead, excited by his first sale, he then launched eight auctions simultaneously! He now tells me that some of the bidders were “scams”, and he plans to only sell much cheaper items from now on. All I can observe is that he has gone through life saying about almost anything to do with business or money that “It’s a scam.” He will invariably dream up some sort of creative excuse for why this could never work for him. Hence, after just one result, he is already beginning to apply the same mentality here too.

In other words, in this person’s case and in the case of so many people, there is a lack of willingness to do what it takes to succeed. There is lots of action, a flurry of activity, but no big-picture strategy of what the final objective should look like!  It seems unbelievable that someone who cannot even recognize the basics on an Internet web page  would seriously consider launching eight eBay auctions simultaneously! Yet, all sorts of people do bizarre things like this all the time… and then scratch their heads and wonder why things went wrong!

In this case and so many others, what is needed is a serious commitment to a long-term plan or strategy. If you plan to do something, aim to do it well. Have some structure to what you are trying to do. Discover what you don’t know and create a plan to fill that knowledge gap. Find out what your weaknesses are, perhaps by asking others who know you well or have experience in what you are trying to do, and then plug those weaknesses.

The above example also illustrates the point that we have to really work upon ourselves to uncover our hidden failure beliefs. Because I know this person well, I also know of the huge mental blocks he has against succeeding financially in any business. That is why I was so impressed that he decided to do anything in the first place, and yet so disappointed that once more, he allows his failure programming to ruin everything.

This person, like so many people, always “plays not to lose” in life. This is a huge difference from playing to win. When you play not to lose, you play defensively and set things up so that you always have an excuse. He is already unconsciously creating his excuses for why he won’t succeed big with this. It is only a matter of time before he gives up and lists all the excuses as to why it is someone else’s fault, and nothing to do with anything he did. The false comfort derived from this is that he does not have to think of himself as “a loser”, but the pain is that he will not experience the enormous pleasure of eventually winning either.

So, in order to succeed in any chosen endeavor, persistence alone is not enough (although it will take you further than most people will ever get). You also need (1) a clear, focused, proven plan for success and (2) a determination to work that plan while (3) adapting to any unexpected upsets that come your way.

On top of it all though, as this case so aptly illustrates, you need a huge willingness to look deep within yourself, challenge your hidden failure mechanisms and exorcise them from your consciousness. The latter step is probably the hardest thing of all to do, since we are tinkering with our habitual paradigm of the way the world works. However, without doing that work, you are driving with the brake on. And if you drive like that, not only do you put a huge stress on your vehicle, you don’t get to go very far either.

Copyright 2011 Asoka Selvarajah . All Rights Reserved.

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