Some would argue that persistence isn’t an art form, but rather a dogged approach to get the results you want- head down, bum up kind of thing. However whilst persistence requires us to work, it’s how, why and when we work to achieve our desired results that makes persistence an art form.
When I was a teenager my dad gave me a quote from Calvin Coolidge to put above my desk which goes something like this “Nothing in this world will take place like persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men 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“. Unfortunately, rather than serving to inspire me with my schooling, this quote, at the time, seemed harsh and draconian. I interpreted this as hard work and nothing else and of course as a teenager, all I wanted to do was to explore the world, not study.
Now I’m bringing up this notion of persistence because we’re heading towards the end of the year. A time when we start to tell ourselves that we’re going to lose a bit of weight before Christmas, going to stick to our new years’ resolutions, next year will be different than this year, etc., you know the score! I’m a big believer in New Years’ resolutions, but just not at the New Year. Yes, there is something significant about the time and date, but why wait, I find if I get a head start on my resolutions then they are more likely to be implemented and embedded prior to the New Year. This allows me to relax on 1 January, knowing that I am already part way there with my goal. This makes it easier to continue.
Lately, I’ve revisited Calvin Coolidge’s interpretation of persistence as I stepped away from the income security of a full time job to expand my business Flowing Life. What I didn’t see as a teenager, I certainly see now. There is a lot of truth to what Calvin said all those many years ago. I’ve worked in a range of different areas, studied a number of degrees but never before have I had to be so self sufficient, creative and persistent as in running my own business.
By using analogies to my yoga practice I’ve found the creativity within myself to continue to persist in times of doubt and I have benefited. These initiatives have stopped me associating the concept of persistence with unhelpful notions of dogged discipline.
Clearly defining my values and checking in regularly with myself to ensure my yoga work, practice and teachings are congruent with these values
Being focused on giving new ideas and people a go, just as I would approach a new asana (posture) in yoga
Reminding myself that new neurological pathways do not form overnight and that it took some years before I could comfortably touch my toes
Having a vision of my long term goal, but making sure that immediate small goals are what I focus on and allow to unfold. Much the same as I would when I am learning a lengthy, new yoga sequence
Breaking my small goals into even more manageable steps as I would if I was teaching yoga postures and sequences to complete beginners.
By finding an analogy to something that I love, I’ve found my willingness and energy to persist no longer seem a mountainous chore. Most of us have something that we love and a concept we struggle with. Bringing these two together as I have done, you may create your own key to the art of persistence.