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The key to perseverance is the last thing you think

Perseverance is an odd thing. It’s not a direction, a solution or even a tool. However, add this quality to any one of the three, and it’s transformational! The ability to continue despite difficulty or delay, this is the stuff heroes are made of.  

I’m an activator. I like to say “I’m responsive to situations.” Getting started isn’t my problem but “sticking” long enough can be. I’m not alone.

How many businesses fold months shy of becoming sustainable?
How many times is the closed deal just one more email away?
How many times does the fear of rejection derail you before you start?

We long to be people of perseverance, but we’re missing one key thing, others.

The story of perseverance is framed as the lonely hero on her quest. The brilliant genius laboring alone. The passionate lover who makes the ultimate sacrifice. The problem is that world-change perseverance cannot be achieved apart from others.

In my book EXTRAORDINARY, I tell the story of cycling the 515-mile California Coast Classic. Not in the book, was an experience I had on day three biking through Big Sur. This day is the highest climbing. We’re talking multiple 3-mile hills.

Warned by veteran riders to be ready, the pain comes quick as you pull out of camp and immediately face a soul-crushing grade. Afraid of the unknown, I got an early start. Under stress, we worry about our performance and want nothing more than to avoid shame. So, to hide my lack of athleticism, I left my friends at breakfast and ground up the “mountain” alone.

Thirty minutes in I was dying. I wanted to get off and walk, but I’d never walked my bike. At the same time, I still had the last third of the hill to go. Isolation, fatigue and impending failure are a toxic wave, and I was about to be washed away. That’s when I felt it. A giant hand squarely in the middle of my spandex covered butt! My buddy Bart, looking like Paul Bunyan on a bicycle had quietly spun up the hill behind me. Seeing me struggling and about to give in, he silently exercised a friend’s prerogative and lent me a helping hand – literally. Like the disabled veterans he’d ridden with over the years, he pushed me up the last of my hill.

Do you let fear of shame lead you to persevere alone?

You have to let others in. You have to include your relationships. You have to ride as a part of the pack.

Do the people in your life know your struggles? Are you asking the ones you love to stand by your metaphorical “bench” ready to give you a spot when the weight starts to shake?

The key to perseverance is to know you can never preserve alone.

  • Scott Last

    You’re right, Mike. Perseverance is best served with friends :-). BTW, I’m reading Field of Blood based on your recommendation. Very enlightening! It puts the partisan congressional conflict we are experiencing in our country today in a better perspective. It could be worse!