Persistence carries more weight than talentI’m reading about a man who served as president during my very early life, Calvin Coolidge.
By: Bernie Hughes, Superior Telegram
I’m reading about a man who served as president during my very early life, Calvin Coolidge. The book written by Amity Shlaes, included many of Coolidge’s hardships and setbacks prior to his presidency.
He had many.
That may be why President Coolidge’s later autobiography, he used a saying that states the value of persistence:
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful individuals with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent.”
Luck of course plays a hand in many successful individual lives; I’ve pointed out in previous essays the many times Lady Luck has helped me. The G.I. Bill paying for my education after WWII was one example. But luck can play the other way too and, Coolidge had some bad luck, especially in his early years.
Luck is sometimes downplayed by successful people: Some claim they were self-made (men mostly). Some of them were born in successful families, well-educated, sufficient income and/or wealth, benefits of travel, books and other educational opportunities. They may have had it all and some don’t appreciate the advantage they had over many individuals on the opposite end of the opportunity scale. Timing is also important in some cases and some decisions benefited greatly by that. This list is longer, and you’ve probably already added some other lucky examples in your life.
Persistence is so important. Try, try and try again. There is an ultimate limit to persistence, but some people are too easily dissuaded. They throw in the towel too easily after a few rough spots made them seriously consider succumbing to the challenge.
When we hit one these rough spots in life, we should consider a variety of needs to use in earning the success we had earlier visualized. You may need more knowledge and education. You may need to study the specific issue more. You may need more time, or you may need more advice or help before continuing. But don’t give up without demonstrating real persistence.
We should look at the evident examples of persistence. The mountain climber that gets to the very top. He or she did not give in to the thought of quitting on that most challenging climb. The winners may have tried before and analyzed why they didn’t make it. They may have chosen a better path after examining and evaluating the previous attempt. They may have chosen better or more appropriate equipment. Timing may have been a factor, and they tried a more advantageous time. They may have gotten advice that was superior to what they had known before. You could add to this list, but the fact is, they didn’t quit.
This is not to say, that there are times when you’ve done all you physically and intelligently could do. You have given it a lot of thought, weighed more advice than you really wanted to hear, and you will decide this activity is a path when you’ve given it more than the old college try. You decide that there are more appropriate paths for your future. And there are natural innate abilities or lack thereof that means we all have to be aware of those too.
Albert Einstein is credited with this statement: We would all agree, I’m sure:
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.
Bernie Hughes, Ed.D, is a retired educator who resides in Superior. He can be reached at bernie3024@