Last week, I FINALLY finished and published my blog about procrastination. Your comments were very insightful. Now, I’m going share some thoughts about persistence, which is pretty much an opposing concept.

“I never gave up,” a dear friend said to me as she was reflecting on the year she spent battling cancer. Good thing.

“Be persistent,” is what a business mentor told me five years ago when I was questioning whether to quit the mediation practice I’d established.

“Stick with it” is what I’d tell my kids (if I had any) when they wavered about finishing a project.

Why is persistence important?  According to Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, “Without persistence, you will be defeated, even before you start.  With persistence you will win.”  Good enough for me.  He also says it’s a state of mind and can therefore be cultivated.  But how, I wondered?  I suspect the answer is to develop habits that support your persistence.

Habit #1:  Take some time to understand your unique situation.  Read everything you can get your hands on.  Make lists.  Become an expert, even if only in your own mind.

Habit #2:  Get guidance from a mentor.  That person doesn’t have to know your specific field, just make sure he/she is smart, resourceful, and already has your respect.

Habit #3:  Indecision can cause paralysis, so make a move.  Ask yourself, what’s the worst that can happen?

Habit #4:  Have faith in yourself.  Don’t give up, and don’t panic.  You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be.

Habit #5:  If at first you don’t succeed, analyze, revise, and try again.

Are you aware that Sylvester Stallone’s first eight screenplays were rejected before he sold his Rocky script that made him millions?  Or that the Wright Brothers had thousands of failed inventions before they became the founders of modern aviation?  I don’t know for sure, but I suspect that they had some help along the way.  Assistance with persistence, if you will.

I’ve had plenty of assistance in my own persistent journey to become a mediator and establish a thriving practice.  Sometimes, I didn’t even acknowledge my own persistence because I was so immersed in the day-to-day reality of my business life.  The help came from myriad and improbable sources as well as from predictable ones.  I soaked up the information like a sponge, and then when I felt saturated, I squeezed the sponge and let the excess out.  I think that metaphor applies to Habit #2.  So, if it’s appropriate, I’d suggest getting the guidance from many mentors, and then sift through the results.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the sources who motivate and inspire you.

Persistence isn’t always easy.  Just look at the relapse statistics for alcoholism or drug addiction.  But what is likely to happen if a heroin addict simply gives up?  The good news is that persistence can be a life-changing reward, regardless of the goal.  If you find yourself giving up, maybe it’s time to change some habits.

What are you persistent about?  Please comment below.