What would you consider the foremost requirement for success in the workplace? Would it be talent? Or education? Training? Good luck?
Certainly each of these can be a factor in professional success. But there is one other quality that might be more important than all of them – persistence. Richard M. DeVos, Sr., co-founder of the Amway Corporation and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic, offered this perspective:
“If I had to select one quality, one personal characteristic that I regard as being most highly correlated with success, whatever the field, I would pick the trait of persistence. Determination. The will to endure to the end, to get knocked down 70 times and get up off the floor saying, ‘Here comes number 71!’”
DeVos seems to have a good point. If we think of top achievers in virtually any pursuit – government, business, technology, science, medicine, even sports and entertainment – we find most of them did not become “overnight successes,” but rather made their marks through hard work and a resolve never to accept failure as a final verdict. When we read the biographies of famous people, we usually discover they utilized adversity as motivation to keep trying, rather than as an excuse for quitting.
I have a friend who overcame great disadvantages in childhood and young adulthood to forge a very successful career as an entrepreneur and sales executive. Despite a limited education and a lack of training, he embarked on a rigorous self-improvement program, despite scoffers that insisted he was doomed to fail. Persistence, even in the face of setbacks, was his constant companion.
The Bible has much to say about persistence and its close cousin, perseverance. For instance:
Persistence builds character. Just as persistent exercise strengthens and tones muscles, persistence in the face of everyday challenges and obstacles builds character and inner strength. “…but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…” (Romans 5:3-5).
Persistence provides joy. Staying the course, refusing to give up, and then reaping the fruits of hard work and determination, provides a sense of joy and fulfillment that cannot be achieved in any other way. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).
Persistence reinforces purpose. When we focus on specific goals and an overriding, clearly defined mission, they help us to persevere despite discouragement and disappointment. As DeVos said, we can get knocked down 70 times and get up again. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.
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1. What do you think of Richard DeVos’s statement that the quality or characteristic he believes correlates most directly to success is persistence?
2. Think of a time when persistence played an important role in your quest to reach a certain goal or objective. What difference did it make to exert that kind of determination?
3. How do you think persistence can build character?
4. Do you agree with the statement that persistence can provide a sense of joy that cannot be experienced in any other way? Why or why not?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Joshua 1:6-9; Proverbs 13:8, 24:30-34; Isaiah 26:3, 50:7; Ephesians 6:10-18