Word of the Month: Perseverance
It goes by various names: determination, staying power, steadfastness, endurance, diligence, assiduity, stick-to-it-iveness. It is a trait that is very much necessary for success in anyone’s life. We think it so important that we made “Perseverance” one of our 12 recurring “Words of the month”.
Too many people make the mistake of assuming that a very successful athlete or artist or business person was essentially lucky, somehow born with the physique, brains or whatever was necessary to succeed in their chosen field. But more often than not, the champion figure skater who makes salchow jumps look easy wasn’t born knowing how to spin in the air gracefully. She learned it through years and years of consistent practice.
Or, as legendary martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee once put it, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” He knew the value of perseverance and consistency in practice.
The same goes for successful business people or scientists. Bill Gates wasn’t born owning Microsoft, and Einstein didn’t just stumble across the theory of relativity. Both men worked relentlessly hard to achieve what they did. Of course, natural talents and inclinations are helpful. But nothing beats perseverance as a predictor of success. The people you’ve heard of, the ones you admire, are the ones who didn’t give up and let their gifts go to waste.
When scientists studied West Point cadets they found that grit was the single most important predictor of whether recruits would be able to get through the extremely challenging summer initiation, colloquially known as Beast Barracks for its extremely gruelling design intended to bring recruits to their breaking point. And if it can help cadets get through weeks of indescribably hard training, imagine what perseverance can do for your job performance or your child’s math scores.
At Douvris Martial Arts we believe in the power of perseverance. We teach our students to keep practicing particular techniques until they’ve mastered them, then we move on to more complicated techniques and repeat the process, with new techniques building on the previous ones. And we work with our students to help them not get frustrated or lose patience and give up on themselves because perseverance takes, well, perseverance.
“A black belt,” you often hear our instructors tell beginners, “is a white belt who never gave up.” Yes, karate is hard. And yes, you too can do it if you keep at it and refuse to quit.
As Sensei Cody Diesbourg explains, “Whenever you start a new task or a new challenge, the idea of it being challenging is what makes the reward that much better. When you take on things that are easy, yes it’s rewarding when you can get them right away. But really think about those accomplishments that have taken you time to get towards. You might have support from other people around, but really when you got to that point, that end game, how much more rewarding it is when you can get something done that you set your mind to over a long period of time.”
“We talk about that in our student creed, every day that we come to the dojo,” Sensei Cody adds. “We set down the kids and the students to talk about overcoming obstacles that hinder your positive growth. These obstacles are going to be there, and the more you can see them, the more you can plan your goals to get around them, and to get through them and really be successful with everything you do.”
Perseverance: A word of the month for every day of the year.