You’ve probably read articles and bloggers talk about how you need persistence. I used to think this was a ethereal quality that I lacked and somehow need to push through another back-breaking barrier of hard work to achieve.
Now I don’t believe persistence comes about like that.
I believe persistence comes through this process:
1) Having a vision (your version of a a 'wow' life) which for you, is something worth pursuing!
2) Asking for what you want, and
3) To keep asking
Something worth pursuing
Only your most beautiful, plentiful, most glorious dream has any real power. The other ideas aren't enough to pull, draw or entice us from our current security. We know we COULD take the prestigious government scientist job that everyone else thinks is great, but what we actually want is to lead an engineering company developing sustainable solutions for the developing world or becoming organic farmer. Or cake-maker or party hostess. Whatever it is.
When we dream enough, allowing ourselves to do that, imaging every possible detail of a wonderful life that sustains and engages and pleases US and we know WHY we want to do it, we realise we HAVE to do it, we won't act on or settle for a life of anything less.
Stepping into that ‘you’ - the one you want to be - even for a few seconds (and in your head!) creates a force and determination in you that develops persistence.
It is the desire of something that needs expressing within us that gives us this muscle, that previously we thought we didn’t have.
We have to ask
This week last year, I was about to go into my last week of full-time work. Supported by my coach at the time, I’d approached my boss and asked to go part-time, despite the fact that at the time there was no part-time position available (it was created). Of course, the business I worked for took a decision based on its need, not just my request, but the fact is I had to ask before it could be considered. And they said yes!
Of course, there is the possibility that someone says 'No.' And it's disappointing and you feel as though you've failed, it's all gone wrong. But opportunities abound. After a time, our energy and enthusiasm is renewed and we try again. Not necessarily the same question of the same person. But ask again for what we want.
When I was about 6 years old, during a particularly wet and windy spell, my schoolfriend and I wanted somewhere to sit during playtime, about an hour and a half a day ,over three breaks.
We shared our laments one afternoon with our headteacher, who was often on playground duty. He said nothing, just ignored us our dancing around him, trying to get his attention.
So we developed our own course of persistence, following him round the playground, giving him every reason we could think of for being able to sit down somewhere (our legs were tired, we wanted to talk, we would be a bit more sheltered from the rain) asking him in slightly whiny voices ‘But Whyyyyy?’ whenever he refused our claims.
We had come up with this plan together and egged on by each other and our desire, we persisted. We were quite giggly and small, and my headmaster was over 6ft, so I can imagine two small schoolgirls tiptoeing behind him, flicking the whistle he carried (wound around his fingers, hands held behind his back) as he strolled round the playground would have been fairly irritating.
After several weeks of this every lunchtime (I'm pretty sure it was at least two weeks but time seemed much longer in those days!), he gave in.
Whether it was because he got fed up with us always hanging around or he had a sudden moment of pity for us, I don’t know. I suspect the former but I remember being faintly surprised by our victory and delighted. We had got what we wanted!
We delighted in the honour of sharing a small log every lunchtime, to the envy of our other friends who were suspicious of this preferential treatment.
Thinking back now to such a little example makes me wonder. How much in my life have I thought I couldn’t have what I wanted because I didn’t ask, let alone persisted?
Is there something you really want right now? Have you asked for it? Are you prepared to keep asking?