Select Page

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.

I got dropped in a bundle of firefighting-type work yesterday, running around attempting to undo a potentially large mess in one of the NGO-type organisations I work with. The causes of the crisis are many, but in the discussions afterwards, one of those involved mentioned that they were thinking of leaving the organisation because they no longer found it inspiring, and they had become too cynical. That attitude makes me grumpy. Let me explain why.

Firstly, life was meant to be hard. If it was not hard, we would all be successful, all be exactly where we wanted to be, and all be the best versions of ourselves. Such achievements would also be meaningless, because we would all have them. It is precisely because life gives us the proverbial lemons that those who succeed are a small and amazing bunch. So while I have no beef whatsoever with wanting to give up on stuff because it is hard, or because it is inconvenient, I believe that the quitters must also then realise that they lose the right to complain about life being in the way of them succeeding. Life doesn’t change its difficulty level, we simply evolve to push through the hardship, or give up and bank our winnings to date for some easier options.

My second complaint here is that the measure of the strength of character of a man (or woman) is (in my view – and since I am the author here…) not determined by how well they can stick to a task when it is fun, exciting and relevant, but whether and how well they can stick to a task when it is boring, unpopular or no longer immediately relevant. It is the people who, taking on a duty, can execute it correctly and see it through to the end who will have the strength of character to persevere in the longer haul. I say that because the things that happen in life are not always fun or relevant, and unless you are willing to stay the course, even in the unglamorous times, you will never see yourself following any direction for long.

To be fair, there are times that I think one should cut one’s losses and choose a new direction. And there are many instances where that is a desirable and useful thing to bring fresh air into your life, or prevent your own self destruction from following a course that is only hurting you. That said, however, I believe strongly too in duty, and in the correctness of seeing something through for no other reason than because it is right, or because you said you would. Such an attitude, while not all of what is required to succeed in your chosen path in life, is a non-negotiable requirement. There is no room on the finish line for those who got bored, who felt insufficiently motivated or wanted the race to be continually entertaining.