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Perseverance Pays Off

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich


Did you know that it took 40 tries before WD-40, developer, Norm Larsen, got it right in 1953? Not only was he successful in designing two-fold water repellant that also prevents erosion but WD-40 has since become a household name used for numerous household needs.


Fortieth try? It sounds like a lot doesn’t it? I’m sure his family and friends may have felt the same way; even trying to discourage each attempt. However, had he been afraid to fail so many times and resorted to listening to those people, we may not have that wonderfully versatile product that loosens and lubricates today.

Has the fear of failure gone too far? Today’s society has become so intolerant of mistakes and failure that we go to great lengths to hide or disguise them. This nothing-less-than-success attitude can have serious dream crippling penalties.


More recently, the oil sands offer us a lesson in perseverance. Dating back to the 1960s and '70s, many researchers were attempting to develop an economical way to dig up oil from the thick sands in the Athabasca basin located in Alberta, Saskatchewan. The project almost seemed to be a complete waste of time and money, because it was not made commercially viable. However, as the technology improved, including help from inflating fuel and energy prices, the oil sands have paid off.


Now, Alberta's energy division’s challenge is how to supply this energy hungry world in a way that does not or minimalizes damage to the Earth. There are various modern, resourceful minds developing ways to make this happen. But rest assured that there is bound to be many more ideas that flop than ones that work. Today more than ever we must be prepared to try numerous times and possibly fail just as many before we finally achieve our goal.


Some readers may wrongly conclude that I'm suggesting that we readily accept failure and weakness. The exact opposite of what is being proposed. What I am proposing is persevering; not giving up because one, two or even three strategies don’t work. These are only hurdles that need to be jumped. This is when you step back, re-strategize and attack it again.


I understand that, at first, this may be a hard principle to accept, especially, if you live in a culture where failure is punished harshly and success rewarded; like Alberta.


Understand that tolerating failure doesn't end with failures and attempts. Tolerating failure encompasses learning from it. Ask yourself questions like: 1. why didn't that work? 2. what did I learn that I can apply next time?


Our personal progress relies on risk-taking. As an entrepreneur you have an idea, as a scientist you have a gut feeling, as a designer you have an image. However, to act on any of these notions, you need to take a chance. Should the consequence of failure seem too much, it can and will interfere with the motivation for you, as the risk-taker, to try anything less than a sure thing. And your dreams and achievement of them, will suffer.


Don’t get me wrong because failure should not be devastating. However, I believe that taking a chance on a dream should not be undermined by zero-tolerance for failure. We can't sit and flounder in failure, but we can learn to embrace failure for what it is -- an essential stepping stone to achieve success. Just as it took 40 tries to develop WD-40, your perseverance is bound to pay off.

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The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again and again until he's successful!

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."~ Calvin Coolidge

Crystallize your goals. Make a plan for achieving them and set yourself a deadline. Then, with supreme confidence, determination and disregard for obstacles and other people's criticisms carry out your plan. -Paul Meyer

That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well. -Abraham Lincoln

Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better. - King Whitney Jr

Facts are stubborn things; whatever may be wishes, inclinations, or the dictates of passion, can't alter the state of facts and evidence. - Tonja



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