A recurring themes you will find amongst most successful athletes is one of Persistence. On my journey towards playing for Australia in the 2000 Olympics, I never would have gotten over the setbacks of injuries and partnership changes without persistence. You most likely have your own story too. It’s the same for those who have succeeded in business, art, science – beyond sport.
Every champion in life has achieved their personal goal through persistence – persistence in training, persistence through the hard times and even persistence through the good times, striving to be even better.
But what causes one to persist?
Is it just a matter of putting your head down and sticking at it, or is there something else driving the individual to persist?
The ability to persist comes from a number of underlying forces, or attitudes, that make it easier for you to keep going when you are challenged or feel you have failed – on and off the sporting field.
1. Having a clear and inspiring goal
My dream to be an Olympian was like a magnet pulling me through and gave me the courage to keep going for it. The more clear your goal is, the easier it is to focus on it and to track a path towards it.
If you don’t know where you are going, you have no way of measuring your progress.
When your goal is inspiring to you, it draws you to do the things you might otherwise be unwilling to do. When you fall down or have a setback, the inspiration of your goal urges you to get back up again and find a way.
2. Know your WHY
How important is it that you achieve your goal? When you know WHY you want to achieve a particular goal, it once again compels you to keep going. The deeper the why (or purpose) the deeper the inspiration.
Ask yourself what achieving your goal will then allow you to do? Will it allow you to live a certain lifestyle or is it about making a difference or having an impact on the lives of others?
What is the value to you of achieving the goal? What is the cost to you if you quit now and go on a different path? Asking these questions at times of challenge will help you to decide whether to persist or not.
When setbacks occur the doubt can creep in – is the goal achievable? Can you achieve it? Are you kidding yourself?
I believe we all have the inner resources to do ANYTHING we set our mind and intention to. Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of the Roman Empire, 161 to 180AD said “Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”
Your doubts, beliefs and fears are in your mind, and the important thing is to be aware of them so that you can question them. Back yourself to succeed.
When you are committed to your goal, you will keep going, no exceptions. Consider how you can bring greater commitment into your daily life – commitment to a certain task, commitment the small goals.
If you have ever been on a diet, you should know how easier it is to say “No” to refills or desserts when you have committed to certain rules on your diet, or committed to achieving a certain milestone.
When you commit to a meeting or appointment, there are no excuses for not going. You have to make the same commitment to your most inspiring goals to achieve them. That commitment will help you find a way around the obstacles and challenges. You are going to accomplish xyz no matter what!
5. Response to setbacks
We all have experienced setbacks and failures along the way to a goal. How you respond to the setback, or perceived failure, will determine whether you keep going and achieve your goal or not.
What does a bad result mean? Does it mean you have failed or does it mean you have to make adjustments?
Judging a result as a failure might cause someone to quit. The problem here is thinking that failure means you will never succeed, or that it doesn’t work, or doesn’t work for you. It’s all in your mind.
When you think of a bad result simply as feedback you can then learn from it. Discovering what didn’t work and making adjustments will, over time, ultimately lead to success.
How do you respond to rejection? What does rejection mean? The person who thinks it means they are a step closer to getting a YES is the one who will keep going until they succeed.
Think of everything you do as practice or training. If you have to make sales calls, every call you make is a training opportunity, whether you get a yes or a no. We learn from each attempt, the wins and the losses. If you are like me and speak to large groups, every speech is an opportunity to practice, learn and improve.
So when is it time to quit?
Two years out from the Olympics I considered quitting. I thought about alternatives to my life without sport, since it looked like I never would reach my goal. The thought of reaching 2000 and thinking ‘What if” I had kept going, is what compelled me to keep going.
How do you know that a poor result, or repeated poor result, is an indication to change course all together??
It depends on how important is it for you to achieve this goal. If it’s important enough, you will find a way. I can assure you no-one has ever tried EVERYTHING and not succeeded. There is always a slight change or distinction that makes the difference.
Think of how much a small adjustment in your sport can affect your speed, your timing, your accuracy and your ability to win. Often it takes the eye or insight from an outside coach or mentor to see fine adjustment what can make the difference for you.
Keep looking for a way to reach your goals and you will succeed. They say the definition of insanity is trying to do the same thing and expect a different result. Make some changes and if you don’t know what changes to make ask for help.
Dare to fail because you can’t fail if you just keep going. Even when at times it seems futile, keep going because once you break through the barrier, you open yourself up to even greater success, more than you even imagined.
What helped you to persist to achieve your sporting goals? Please share your lessons of persistence with me and our readers.