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"Persistence – Turn your Defeats into Victories"

Post on: March 15, 2019

How do you define persistence? I would say people who are persistent continue to complete the task they undertook in a determined way despite the difficulty and opposition. In a nutshell, they never give up or waver from their purpose.

One of life’s tragedy is that many aspirants who were resolved in their pursuit gave up just when their sacrifices were to bear fruit. Thomas Edison puts it so emphatically, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”

When we study the lives of successful people, we realise they have one common determinant – They didn’t give up but persisted until they got what they wanted. The world salutes those who stand by their goal despite the odds. Let us take a peek at some of them:

1. Sylvester Stallone — people often say my childhood hero had lucky breaks which catapulted him to success. But that is far from the truth. He was a struggling actor who took on any job just to keep his passion for the “Cinefield” alive. He had his eureka moment after watching the Muhammad Ali vs Chuck Wepner bout — he went on to write the Rocky screenplay. Despite countless rejections by studio houses, he was not deterred. After being rebuffed many times, one studio decided to buy his story but on condition of having an A-list actor play the lead role. Stallone was steadfast in playing the role and could not envision his creation, “Rocky Balboa” being usurped from him! This despite being typecast as someone who spoke strangely. But he persevered despite all odds – even sustaining injuries during filming. In spite of these, Rocky became the highest-grossing film in the USA and won an Oscar award for best picture in 1976. Today, I doubt if anyone has not heard of Rocky or Rambo — he is immortalised as a Hollywood action hero.

2. Colonel Sanders is probably the most recognisable iconic figure in the fast food industry. He is the face of Kentucky Fried Chicken. However, he was not born with a silver spoon – the opposite holds true. He went on to build an empire at the age of 65 when most people would have retired and spend time with their grandkids. With a social security cheque of $100, he traversed around the country in his car — selling his mother’s chicken recipe. And he had to knock 1000 doors before he got his first order – that’s perseverance!

3. Walt Disney – as a young cartoonist, he was faced with many rejections and was even fired for not being creative enough to make a name in the industry. Despite being branded for a lack of imagination and originality, he proved his ingenuity by creating an animated mouse which nobody would have envisioned as something charismatic. In fact, it is oftentimes looked upon with disdain. However, Mickey Mouse broke barriers — it was so adorable and brought cheer to children of all generation. He went on to open the Disneyland, the happiest place on earth. So much from a guy who was written off as one lacking in imagination.

4. Thomas Edison is one of the greatest personalities the world has seen – having more than 1000 inventions to his name. The prominent ones being the phonograph, the light bulb and the “motion picture”. As a child, he was partially deaf and did not do well in his studies. One day, his teacher sent him home with a note to his mother, “Your Tommy is too stupid to learn, get him out of the school.” His mother refused to believe the assessment of her son and disregarded it. Instead, she home-schooled little Tommy. With perseverance and true grit, Tommy or Thomas Edison became a genius whom the world regard with much esteem.

5. J.K. Rowling — “By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew.” I bet you wouldn’t believe such words coming from the mouth of the lady who immortalised the Harry Potter character. J.K. Rowling had conceptualised the story of “Harry Potter” during a delayed train from Manchester. She was living on social welfare as a single mom and battling depression. She hit rock bottom and had to write her story in various café just to keep warm while her daughter slept in a pram. Being highly imaginative since childhood, she drew inspiration for her books from the surroundings and people in her life. Harry Potter is now one of the biggest movie franchise and she has become one of the most powerful women in the United Kingdom.

Most people will continue to blame their sorry state of life and dire circumstances as bad luck. It is typical of a disenchanted businessman to point the finger on market saturation, unfair competition, or the escalating cost of doing business. An aspiring footballer who didn’t get a call-up into the senior squad would blame the referee for being biased, lack of support from selfish teammates or even the overgrown grass on the pitch!

The truth is they are just mere excuses. We are so quick to vindicate our lack of success so as not to look bad. Successful people do not play the Victim card or depend on luck. On the contrary, they visualise they are Victors before reaching the pinnacle of success and work towards their goals as exemplified by their life stories.

I’ll end with a saying which resonates so deep: “Good luck is when opportunity meets preparation, while bad luck is when lack of preparation meets reality.”

By Shaji Thomas Varughese
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