Deep in the jungles, 6 out of 7 leopard hunt send with the leopard failing to catch its prey. Tigers fare no better. Estimates suggest that 1 in 20 hunts end in a kill. Lionesses hunting are successful only about 30% of the time. Clearly, success doesn’t come easy even to the most skilled hunters. How do they survive? By adopting a variety of tricks like stealth, camouflage, group hunting. And of course, they keep trying.
Try and try till you succeed might sound like a boring adage. But it offers a clue about the power of persistence. This simple under-rated behavior can help you move closer to your goals, no matter the field, and bring a range of benefits.
- It promotes innovation. Between 1878 to 1880, Edison and his associates worked on almost 3,000 different theories to make an efficient incandescent bulb. By 1879, he had built his first high-resistance electric bulb. But, he continued to test hundreds of materials – including plant fibers – in the quest for a better filament. This persistence is summed up in his famous statement: genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
- It improves the quality of your work. Reaching the next milestone is possible only when you keep going. And that’s where we underestimate the effect of persistence. In a study, participants were given 10 minutes to come up with ideas for a particular task. At the end of this duration, they got an additional 10 minutes. The ideas generated in the second instance were better on quality. Participants also came up with more ideas than they thought they would. The conclusion: people often quit early, leaving their best ideas undiscovered.
- It nurtures long-term success. There’s more to success than luck and talent, says psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth. And that is grit – passion and perseverance for long-term goals. Studies point out that very few “world-class musicians, swimmers, or chess players, were regarded as prodigies. Accomplished individuals worked day after day, for at least 10 or 15 years, to reach the top of their fields.” Duckworth adds, “Excellence in anydiscipline requires years and years of time on task.” The reading: it takes time to succeed, so keep going.
World over, successful inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, and leaders, share persistence as the common factor underlying their achievements. Big goals or small ones, the way to reach them is to get started and keep walking, one step at a time. Good luck with your next goal.