Perseverance is something I think about all the time. Often when things don’t seem to be fitting together, I can’t see the next step, or I wonder if I am even going in the right direction. I have the choice to keep going or to quit. I remember really early on in developing my website, I was trying to get the program to do something, and it wasn’t working. Nothing I did seemed to be working any more. I was extremely frustrated with the computer, but even more so with myself and my apparent lack of ability to learn. I stood up from our family computer, everyone else was in the room watching a movie, and very frustrated said how stupid I was, and I couldn’t learn anything! I left the room very discouraged and went to my room to cool down. I’m sure my family was stunned. I don’t usually let my frustrations out in such a vocal manner. But as I cooled down, and asked my Heavenly Father if I truly was stupid, I had an overwhelming feeling of peace, and a thought to try again tomorrow. The next day I resumed my efforts with my website, and found that overnight everything I had tried to do had worked, it had just taken time for those changes to take affect. That lesson has helped me as I continue to modify and work on my website, as some things seem to be instant, while others take several hours to work correctly. I am grateful for the patience I was instructed to have, the ability to have that patience, and for not scrapping the whole project that night.
Perseverance to me is the difference between our initial goals and success. Dreams are great to have, goals are great to set, but it is by daily choosing to take the steps necessary that we accomplish those goals, that those dreams become a reality. No matter what our goals are we will hit a wall. Perseverance means to figure out how to get through over, under, or around that wall. More and more today I see people afraid to fail. Everything needs to be perfect, everything needs to be laid out ahead of time so that there is no guessing. Often my husband or I will send our kids on an errand or have a task for them to complete. They used to ask a lot of questions, how to do this and that, they spent so much time asking questions that they could have been done by the time they were finished asking questions. Often, if we chose to answer the questions ahead of time, they couldn’t comprehend the answers because they hadn’t completed any of the steps in the process to even understand what we were talking about. We now tell them to go figure it out. If they get to a point where they really can’t proceed then come ask, but not before. Some people ask us, what if they don’t do it right? My response, there’s more than one way to accomplish any job, and usually they are successful once they get into it without needed additional help. We are living in a world with a “now” mentality. Many people in our society think things should be handed to them, but have no real idea of how those items will be paid for, or even an understanding that they need to be, that other people are working hard to make wages so that they can have what they want without putting forth any effort.
When Thomas Edison was inventing the lightbulb it took upwards of 10,000 attempts before he got it right. He was asked how it felt to fail so many times. His reply was that he had not failed 10,000 times, he had successfully discovered 10,000 ways which did not work. When we think we have failed it can be discouraging to start again. But we only fail when we give up. Everything else is just data, and as Edison put it, successful data, telling us what does and doesn’t work. When we organize that data we can proceed forward, either in the same direction because we are getting closer, or to completely change courses because we can see the data not moving us in the right direction. But if our goal or direction is something we really want, we need to persevere through the data so that we can arrive at the end goal.
We are born with an innate ability to persevere through difficulties. If I fell down as many times as a toddler learning to walk, I think I might give up on walking. No matter what a small child does, they persevere through difficulties to learn. They are fun to watch, and can be an inspiration to us as we think about our own challenges and trials, and how to work through them. Thomas Edison also said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” That is the beauty of how the Lord has set up the earth and time. We have about 16 hours a day to work on things, and then we get to sleep. What’s awesome is that we get to wake up the next morning and start again. Every day is a new beginning. Even if we didn’t do as good, or complete everything we were working on the day before, we can start again the next day, often with a fresh perspective.
Perseverance through life requires us to know what we want and where we are going. If we don’t know those 2 things, then it really doesn’t matter what we do. I love the famous Cheshire Cat quote from Alice in Wonderland:
Without our dreams and our goals, we won’t know where we are going, and instead of persevering to an end, we end up just floating along, being taken wherever the current flows. The problem with that end, is it’s usually not where we expected to be. I can’t find the author to the last quote, but this is one that I love, and hear often in my workout videos. It’s inspirational to me to keep going, to keep moving forward regardless of how well I did the day before, to persevere through everything life throws at me, and to put in the effort for what is really important to me. It says:
“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.”
I would love to hear how you have persevered through trials, challenges, or to achieve your goals!
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