Learn why perseverance is important for both personal and professional success in today’s guide. Audio version available here.
Have you heard the story of the ant and the grasshopper?
It goes something like this: there once was an ant and a grasshopper. The grasshopper spent all its time playing and having fun, while the ant worked day in and day out to build up its reserve of food. The grasshopper teased the ant all the time, but that did not stop the ant from doing the work it was doing.
Then a long and bitter winter came.
Everything froze over.
There was no sign of food anywhere.
The ant survived through the bitter winter thanks to the food reserve it had built up, thanks to its hard work and perseverance.
The grasshopper though had no food and wasn’t so fortunate.
The moral of the story is that the ones who persevere and put in the effort are the ones who make progress, and survive. The ant had to persevere and put in the work consistently to build up the food reserve that helped it get through the long winter. Building up a reserve like that just would not have been possible to do overnight.
Had it not been for its consistent effort, the ant would not have survived either.
If you want your work and your life to matter, if you want to have an impact, you need to be like the ant. You need to put in the effort consistently. It is not enough to do some work and then stop – to make progress and have a real impact, you need to keep at it.
In the same way Rome was not built in a day, nothing great happens overnight.
Great things happen especially as a result of consistent effort. Big things happen as a result of doing small things day in and day out, even when it might seem mundane and boring and there are other more fun things to do.
Have fun, absolutely. Enjoying your life is very important. I am not talking about becoming a workaholic or only focusing on just one aspect of your life. No, what I am talking about here is prioritising, and persistence. I am talking about seeing things through even when the going gets tough.
When the ant in the story was building up its reserve it could have easily given up on the tiresome task of finding and stocking up food – but it didn’t. The ant understood the importance of prioritising the work of gathering food, which ultimately saved its life.
Priorities and success
Life is all about priorities.
You need to prioritise what is important to you both in the short term and in the long term. You can have fun AND achieve great things – they are NOT mutually exclusive. It is not that you need to work all the time or that if you enjoy your life you can’t have an impact or do the things that are important.
The key is to prioritise your focus.
Yes, you might have to sacrifice some fun in the short term, in order to have a better life in the long term.
This brings to mind something Muhammad Ali, the legendary boxer, said when he was asked about his training. A reporter once asked him if he liked his training, and here is what he said: I hated every minute of training, but I said to myself, ‘Don’t quit, suffer now, and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”
And that guy was a champion. His efforts really did pay off, so much so that no matter what corner of the world you go to, people know about him and his feats.
Sports isn’t the only field where you find examples like that – in every field, in every profession, in every sector and area of life you will find people who make incredible impact.
That impact is a direct result of their perseverance.
When you look into legends like Muhammad Ali and Abraham Lincoln and Mother Teresa and other people like that who have made a big impact on the world, you will always find that they all practiced perseverance.
That’s a common trait for everyone who has an impact (like this book details…).
What is Perseverance?
Perseverance is the ability to continue to do things even when challenges crop up, and things become hard.
Perseverance is about choosing to keep going even when it seems dull and boring and hard.
Perseverance is about doing what you need to do and prioritising that over other temptations.
And above all, perseverance is about choosing long term gain over short term pain.
Impact and perseverance
Having an impact and achieving great things rarely ever, if ever, is the result of something that happens overnight, or comes easy…
Muhammad Ali didn’t just get inside the ring and become a legendary boxer.
Mother Teresa didn’t just go to India one day and have the incredible humanitarian impact that she did.
Abraham Lincoln didn’t just stand for election one day and become the guy who changed the course of history.
J.K.Rowling didn’t just pick up the pen one day and become a world famous author.
James Dyson didn’t create his revolutionary Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner overnight.
Feats of legend and incredible impact don’t just happen, and they most definitely do not happen overnight.
They are always the result of perseverance.
Importance of perseverance in personal life
But perseverance doesn’t just matter in terms of professional success or the impact you can have in the world, it also matters in your own life.
Being healthy, for instance, takes perseverance. Working out isn’t always fun, and there are days when you might not feel like doing it at all. But it is only when you prioritise being healthy over other things that you actually improve your health. I would love to tell you that nurturing a healthy mind and body, and maintaining good health, takes no effort, but unfortunately that is just not how it works.
This, by the way, applies to all the other areas of your personal life too.
Here’s the bottomline – no matter what area of your life you want to have an impact in, you can’t have the impact without prioritising, and without persevering.
Have fun, sure, but prioritise what is important.
Choose long term gain over short term pain. That is essential if you want to make an impact, and especially so if you want to leave a legacy.
Be like the ant.
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?