Learn How to Make Persistence a Habit
It’s the story of practically every startup in the world. You pitch to a VC and you fail. Then you do it again and again and again without luck. The smart thing to do might be to give up and move on. Some people say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. But being persistent sometimes means being a little insane too.
Persistence, dedication, and consistency are brought up constantly, but that doesn’t make it easy to turn those words into actions and behaviors. It can seem impossible to keep these concepts in mind when you’re hitting a wall with whatever you’re trying to achieve. But in truth, the only way to break that wall and succeed is to commit them to your routine.
Whether we can admit it or not, we as people tend to assume unconsciously that there won’t be many obstacles in our way. That’s why there is such a sharp pang of despair whenever things don’t pan out as planned. It’s the easiest thing in the world to give into rejection and defeat. Every cell in our body is telling us to go that way. You really have to fight yourself just as much as anyone else to persist and push beyond your limit. You have to tell your body no.
You can look at a thousand stories from great men and women, and the same message will ring true. They got to where they did because they decided they weren’t going to listen to what their body was telling them. They kept trying—trial and error—until that goal they set was met. Then, in all likelihood, they set a new one.
The secret to a successfully persistent attitude is to refuse to be results oriented. It’s a concept that comes from poker. Many professionals in that game will tell you that having a results oriented thought process will ruin any chance of success.
When you stop thinking about playing the odds and making good decisions that is your quickest path to failure. When you see that you would have made a hand on the flop if you hadn’t folded and that changes your behavior, you’ve already made the worst mistake you can.
Instead of putting all the emphasis on the result—for example, going to a VC and failing to get funded—look instead at the decision-making that lead you there. Did you pick the right investor to target? How did you pitch your product and your company? Ultimately, did you put yourself in the best possible position for success?
Effective persistence is about learning from all the obstacles that get in your way. If you don’t worry about the failure itself and focus instead on what you need to do to get a better result next time, you’re that much closer to the result that you really want.
Besides just giving up, the worst thing you can do is be blindly persistent. If you just keep battering against the wall without learning and adjusting then you really are insane. Dedication is learning and growth. Without those things, there’s no progress. But if you can be persistent and learn from the failure then there’s absolutely no limit to your potential.