“How long should you try? Until.” — Jim Rohn, American speaker and best-selling author
“That’s going to take him half the summer!”
I had heard a number of neighbours say it. They were talking about my uncle. Sometime prior, he had purchased a used Caterpillar bulldozer. It was small and old. He had bought it with a specific purpose in mind — clearing 14 acres of brush to create some new pastureland.
My uncle’s land was across the road from ours. It was summer, so I was out of school and busy in the hayfield. Each day, as I drove by on the tractor, I’d wave to him and (if he saw me) he’d wave back. A couple times, I stopped to watch him work. The little dozer chugged and belched smoke as the stand of poplar gradually fell into neatly brushed piles.
I had heard someone say that my uncle should have hired a “cat skinner” to do the job.
Evidently, a good skinner with a decent dozer would have had the brush work done in just a couple of days.
When I think of my uncle’s effort to clear those few acres, the word perseverance comes to mind. Perseverance is often described as a commitment to hard work, patience and endurance, the ability to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint, trying again and again until successful.
Perseverance is sometimes confused with endurance but unlike enduring hardship, perseverance typically involves a worthy goal and it is that goal that keeps us on track and on task.
If we think about it, perseverance applies to so much that we do and enjoy in life.
Learning to walk, learning to read and write — to ride a bike. If life teaches us anything, it’s that failure is assured only when we stop trying.
That’s a lesson we’d be wise to revisit in adulthood.
Worthwhile goals require perseverance — stick-to-itiveness — and often, a willingness to forestall gratification. When it comes to growing our self-esteem, perseverance is vital. Old patterns of behaviour can be exceptionally difficult to overcome. With a willingness to forge on ahead and the goal of an empowered life as the reward, we’re more likely to stay the course when faced with resistance to change. Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up!
Human beings throughout history have persevered and you can too!
In fact, I’d like you to think of yourself as one of those individuals. Choose a goal that’s worthy of your efforts.
Consider how reaching your goal will impact you and those around you in a positive way. Celebrate your accomplishments, however small. View obstacles as challenges to be overcome and setbacks as valuable life lessons.
When you stumble, get up, brush yourself off and keep going.
When you finally achieve your goal, give thanks and enjoy the accomplishment.
One day, on the way to the hayfield, I stopped the tractor on the shoulder of the road and turned off the engine. Digging into the old knapsack where Mom had placed a healthy lunch, I pulled out a thermos of lemonade.
I climbed the fence and marched across the field.
When my uncle saw me, he lowered the blade and turned off the diesel engine. After climbing onto the track and shaking his hand, I poured lemonade from the thermos and passed it to him.
“It’s looking good, Uncle.”
“Gaining on it,” he said, enjoying the lemonade. “Little by little!”
“Too bad it’s taking so long,” I observed in a serious tone.
My uncle looked at me, perplexed. “How do you figure?”
I suddenly wished I hadn’t commented but now I was committed.
“With a decent dozer you’d have the job done in a couple days.”
My uncle sat there for a few moments saying nothing, just looking at the field.
“If I were a skinner,” he said at last, “with a decent dozer, I would expect to have the job done in a couple days and hold myself to it. If I can get this land cleared and brushed in two weeks, then I’ll be satisfied with my efforts.” He thanked me and started the dozer.
Perhaps one of the secrets we can learn from folks who persevere is to strive at our own pace – to the beat of our own drum — not to a pace imposed by someone else’s agenda.
It was Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, who wrote, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
Today, over 40 years later, nature has all but reclaimed the 14 acres. What remains is the lesson I learned from my uncle’s example and the understanding that anything truly worthwhile is always worth an investment of time, effort and perseverance.
Murray Fuhrer is a local self-esteem expert and facilitator. His new book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca