I recently attended a workshop run by UK strengths educator, researcher and author, Jenny Fox Eades. By way of introducing each participant, she randomly placed A4 ‘Strengths’ cards on the floor and invited us to choose one strength and then explain our reasons why we chose it. I chose Persistence. Although it’s not one of my top strengths, it is something that I wanted to practice more of and acknowledge the times I have engaged its services.
Persistence is a companion to perseverance; to persevere, means you are being persistent, and if you are persistent you are demonstrating perseverance. You are dogged, diligent, determined, and – one of my favourites – indefatigable.
The word and the act of persistence has intrigued and often baffled me, as there are many instances in my life when I felt compelled to give up and did, and other times, when I didn’t. I persisted.
However, persistence doesn’t guarantee success. Perhaps this is where the confusion lies; after all, we are bombarded with slogans such as ‘believe it and you’ll see it’, and ‘never, ever, ever give up’. Well, I beg to differ, as did Jenny Eades, when she said: “Persistence needs to know when to give up.”
Which takes me to a strengths-based definition of persistence:
‘Achieving success by keeping going even when things are difficult’
I think this is a balanced definition of the strength of persistence. It’s the knowing when to keep on keeping on, knowing in your heart and in your head that what you are striving for is attainable and desirable and worth the struggle. It’s also the knowing or realising it’s time to change direction, modify a goal, take five, regroup, redefine and/or let go.
To persist or not to persist? That is the question.