Admiral Robert Peary attempted to reach the North Pole seven times before he finally achieved his goal.
Oscar Hammerstein produced five shows on Broadway that were flops before staging the smash hit Oklahoma, which was seen by more than 4.5 million people during a record breaking run of 2,212 performances.
Thomas Edison failed in his attempt to create a workable lightbulb ten thousand times before creating one that finally worked. Can you imagine trying anything ten thousand times? He was certainly right when he said, “When I have fully decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead on it and make trial after trial until it comes.”
Tenacity rewards those with lofty goals. Or, more accurately said, through tenacity we earn the reward that is accomplishing our goals. There is no limited number of options, resources, actions, or creative ideas that keeps you from achieving your goals – only a limit you set yourself on the number of times you try.
Your Goal, Your Responsibility
If you want to become someone who pursues a goal until it’s realized, then you need to keep working, keep striving, keep moving closer to it. To do that, keep in mind the following:
1. RECOGNIZE THAT QUITTING IS MORE ABOUT WHO YOU ARE THAN WHERE YOU ARE.
Everyone faces difficulty when working toward a goal. And if someone fails, he can make excuses for what went wrong, how the unexpected happened, how someone let him down, how circumstances worked against him. But the reality is that external things do not stop people. It’s what happens to them on the inside. Most people stop themselves from reaching their potential. They can pretend that people, things, and situations outside themselves are to blame for their failures, but in reality, they are responsible for themselves.
You are responsible for whatever you want to accomplish.
As you pursue your goal, your attitude should be like that of the gifted artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, who declared, “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed on a star does not change his mind.” One must have that mind-set to tenaciously pursue a goal. The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying. There is no insurmountable barrier except our inherent lack of persistence.
2. IMPROVE YOUR VOCABULARY.
French novelist Emile de Girardin noted the power of words: “The power of words is immense. Well-chosen words have stopped armies, changed defeat into victory, and saved empires.” The words you use have the power to move you closer to or farther away from your goal.
Half of personal growth is turning challenges into opportunities. Instead of saying you’ve never done something before, consider that there’s a first time for everything. Rather than look at your lack of resources, think about the chance you’ve been given to practice creative problem-solving. “I already tried” becomes “I learned from the experience.” “It’s too radical” turns into “Let’s take a chance.” Goals get closer when we choose to see potential everywhere.
3. KNOW THAT WAITING FOR EVERYTHING TO BE RIGHT, IS WRONG.
Comedian Jonathan Winters advised, “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to meet it.” Too many people stand on the dock waiting. They want the ship in place, the gangplank perfectly positioned, the weather right, and a hand-delivered invitation before they’re willing to take a step forward! It will never happen. Why? Because our goals don’t move toward us. We have to move toward them.
Jack Canfield, in his wonderful book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, writes:
It’s time to quit waiting for perfection, inspiration, permission, reassurance, someone to change, the right person to come alone, the kids to leave home, a more favorable horoscope, the new administration to take over, an absence of risk, someone to discover you, a clear set of instructions, more self-confidence, the pain to go away…
In other words, the conditions will never be perfect for you to go after your goal. In fact, conditions may not seem all that favorable. Move forward anyway. Be tenacious in your commitment to action.
4. SEE THAT THE RESOURCES FOR YOUR GOAL STOP THE MOMENT YOU DO.
There is a strong relationship between our movement toward our goals and the resources we need becoming available to us. Too often we want to see the resources or have them in hand before we start moving forward. But when we do that, we have neither resources nor movement. Instead, we need to be like the snail in a humorous story as he started climbing an apple tree one cold day in February. As he inched his way upward, a worm stuck his head out from a crevice in the tree and said, “You’re wasting your energy. There isn’t a single apple up there.”
“No,” replied the snail as he kept climbing, “but there will be when I get there!” The story is corny, but the sentiment is true. Only by moving forward will we have an opportunity to receive what we need to succeed.
5. PRACTICE THE RULE OF FIVE.
Hundreds of millions of people have been inspired by the stories in Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Since its first edition in 1993, the book and its spin-offs have sold more than 500 million copies – so it would be fair to assume that even from the beginning, publishers were breaking down their doors for the opportunity to get those books to market.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it was a huge struggle. Hansen and Canfield had a very difficult time getting anyone interested in publishing the first book. Then, when the book was in print, they had a tough time getting anyone to buy it. They did a lot of research and talked to a lot of successful authors. But what finally helped them turn the corner was advice from a teacher named Scolastico, who told them, “If you would go every day to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp ax, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.”
The pair plowed forward with a new mission in mind: living by the rule of five. Five radio interviews, sending out five copies for editors to review, giving a seminar to at least five people – every day, at least five people would get the book in front of them. And after practicing it creatively, and consistently, over two years, fire caught – and now, people everywhere know the name Chicken Soup for the Soul. With time and tenacity, the same could be said of your dream.
Because growth is the only guarantee that tomorrow is going to be better…
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