Be persistent

"People talk about mind over matter, and I believe in it, but you really have to dig deep. It's not enough just to think. You have to work past your limits. I actually don't think that people have any limitations.”

Rosie Swale Pope, who ran around the world

The things that come too easy terrify me, like winning the lottery. I figure the odds of winning the lottery are roughly the same as being killed by an engine that falls off an airplane. I don’t want any part of either.

What’s left is persistence. To be good at something, you have to work at it. To maintain something you value, you have to take care of it. This is true of your career, relationships, and health. It is true across the board.

Most of us know this to be true. There’s just one problem. It’s really hard. It’s hard to have three job interviews in a row that go south, or to have the CEO yell at you, or to exercise at 8 pm after a long and frustrating day. It’s hard to practice the piano, or fill out yet another college application.

As I write these words, I have two kids in college, but “we” have gone through the college application process a total of four times. Both transferred from their original college. Neither wanted to go through the stressful application process a second time, but both are delighted they did.

Jim George, whose quote opens the next section, is one of the most talented artists I know. He’s worked for Disney, has illustrated many books, and has helped create numerous TV shows and movies. He is stunningly talented.

Jim’s drawings look effortless, but even with his remarkable talent, each requires immense effort. He is better than most not because of his God-given abilities, but because he will keep working long after most others have settled for less.

For two years, I "watched" him draw every night from 8 pm to 4 am, while also working during the day. Never once did he deliver sloppy or disappointing artwork, but I am certain he discarded many drawings at 2 am, then started over again.

The great thing about persistence is that you can control it. Someone else may be naturally smarter or stronger than you, but you can decide to keep at it long after they have quit. You can write another draft, do additional research, keep at your diet, exercise more consistently, or simply never stop reminding yourself of why you are working so hard.

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