Do you remember the second Indiana Jones movie “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade”?
Indy is in a race against the evil Nazis to find the cup of Christ, the Holy Grail, which is said to give eternal life to whoever drinks from it. When both Indy and the Nazis are in the cave that is full of “false” cups, with the single real one among them, the evil guy picks the flashiest, most bejeweled cup “fit for a King”. Drinking from it triumphantly, he shrivels up and dies. Oops.
Of course, Indy picks the right one. When they asked him how he knew, he said, “Jesus worked as a carpenter. He wouldn’t have owned a glamorously bejeweled cup. He would’ve owned a simple, humble cup.”
Smart guy, that Indy.
In the 10+ years that I’ve been a business owner, I’ve learned that the keys to success aren’t the flashiest, latest, most glamorous, or magical this-and-that’s. It’s not winning the lotto or having a rich uncle. It’s not winning American Idol, nor is it going to a fancy school, or having fancy things.
The keys to success are often are the most basic, humble, and frankly, simplest of principles.
In a study reported in the January/February 2010 issue of The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com), this principle unexpectedly came to light. The study was done to find out what makes a great teacher, with great defined as having a high percentage of students move up grade levels in learning.
They debunked the typical things you would think: prior teaching experience, educational background, and even school and student demographics. They even claimed it has nothing to do with having a dynamic personality or dramatic performance.
Among the four or five characteristics of effective (and successful) teachers, the one that they found as the most consistent predictor of teacher effectiveness is (ready for this?)…Persistence. Yep. It is how much grit, relentlessness, and stubbornness they have to hang on and not give up in the face of adversity until they reach their goals.
In Napolean Hill’s popular book “Think and Grow Rich”, Persistence is number 8 on the list of the 13 essential characteristics of what creates success. Hill states “if one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success in any calling.”
Dan Kennedy, marketing guru and millionaire consultant to businesses, has observed how highly successful entrepreneurs aren’t markedly superior in talent, intelligence, education, or resources. What they seem to have in common is a very profound sort of stubbornness. It is this stubbornness and persistence that is needed to pick yourself up after every failure and keep at it until you achieve success.
There may be no heroic connotation to the word “persistence”. It’s not sexy and glamorous, and it’s no magic bullet for anything. It’s a day-in, day-out, no make-up, fall down, get up, dust yourself off, and keep-on-trucking connotation. So the dusty old cliché is true: winners never quit, and quitters never win.
Perhaps the Bible says it best when it says “tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
So, go ahead, bring on the day-to-day drudge, the challenges, the failures, and the obstacles. It’ll help develop the grit and stubbornness which brings long-term, lasting success.
And I’ll take that over short-lived glory any day.