“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Confucius
Today’s Monday Motivation is about persistence. Persistence is the ability to continue to move forward despite difficulties, failures, and doubt—it is the ability to continue that is a truly powerful ally, particularly when we run into challenges.
When I volunteered for Ranger School, one of the pieces of advice I received was from a recent graduate. That soldier told me that “persistence defeats resistance.” Boy, was he right. You really have no idea how hard this school is until you’re doing it. At one point in the final phase of the school, my body was so worn out that I was literally thriving on willpower alone. My body was just broke.
This same type of persistence is required when pursuing any type of goal that stretches your limits. I am on a journey to weight loss. I had a difficult back surgery in 2003 and have been struggling with my weight ever since. I’m making progress, but this progress is slow. I’m not concerned. Weight loss should be slow. It took me 15 years to get to the weight I am at, I’m not concerned if it takes me that much time to lose what I put on. I will achieve my goal.
I am also pursuing a goal of writing some books. Again, this is not an easy journey. It is tough work to create something-something that is original and my own. I will achieve my goal.
I am dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle. My physical and mental health is important. I meditate daily. I exercise daily. I continue to study and read all the latest information on improving physical and mental well-being. I will achieve my goal.
A key piece to mental health, particularly the brain is in eating right, sleeping enough, physical exercise, and mental exercise. I have embraced the concept of life-long learning. I also enjoy playing video games, not just because I find them fun and entertaining, but also because they stimulate the brain and my hand-eye coordination. I’m a big fan of strategy games and first-person shooters like Call of Duty.
I have set a personal goal of reading 36 books this year (around 3 a month). I’m close to hitting that goal. Once I achieve it, I’ll set my goal to 48 books next year. I have found that doing a little each day is really the key to achieving these types of goals. Frankly, it works for most of the things I am pursuing. Little things add up to really big things. Therefore, my focus is more on my daily accomplishments, rather than on long-term or even short-term goals. I have goals, but it is the daily accomplishment of critical tasks that build up in the long run. Read a chapter a day and you will read 365 chapters a year. I read much more than that, but you get the point.
Book writing is the same. Working just a little each day will build the book. As I get better at the writing process, writing more books will be much easier. It’s always the first step that poses the most difficulty. It is like taking a step in the dark when traversing uncharted territory. We take small steps initially. Once we gain confidence in the path, our steps are less tentative.
The key point to this posting is the ability to build confidence, by persevering. Each day we do something we get better at that task. Each time we improve our proficiency in something we are unskilled at, our confidence improves. If you have ever read any type of training or teaching material, you’ll realize the wisdom in the four levels of learning. These four levels are: 1) unconscious incompetence; 2) conscious incompetence; 3); conscious competence; and 4) unconscious competence. At each level, we grow in proficiency.
Initially, we must be taught, or we must learn how to do something we don’t know how to do. Then we begin to realize how little we know about a topic or task. After some practice, we become proficient in the task but need to pay attention to what we are doing. When we have truly mastered a task or skill, we can do the task without thinking about it. It is a part of us. This is the unconscious competence level. Authors like Stephen King are like this. This is how he has become so prolific in his writing. Another author that comes to mind that is like this is Isaac Asimov.
Persistence is required when we attempt anything new. Whether it is a new diet, a new exercise regimen, writing, public speaking, or web development. Every new skill we pursue requires us to pay a price. This price involves learning something new, then practicing and practicing and practicing. This process never ends—ever. You can’t master anything if you aren’t willing to make the sacrifice to learn the task and then practice the task until you become unconsciously competent in the performance of the task.
You will make mistakes. You will be frustrated. You will have to change course. This is what persistence is. I hope all of you have a great week!
Until next time…