Column: The Power of Persistence

Somewhere around 426 B.C. Herodotus published his greatest work, “The Histories.” More than just a history it’s also an inquiry into many things, including what he called “custom” which is what we call “culture.”

“One can see by this what custom can do, and Pindar, in my opinion, was right when he called it king of all.” -Herodotus, The Histories, Book 3 section 38.

Culture is King. There’s a lot of truth to that. Everywhere you go you can see changes in culture. The United States has a lot of different cultures co-existing within our nation, and here on the River we definitely have a culture all our own.

Some of that’s good and some of that’s bad, but all of its ours and we need to own up to it. Last month I talked to you a little bit about finding your motivation and making necessary course corrections to wherever it is you’re going with your life. This month I’d like to add onto that a little bit because, if there’s one thing our River Culture isn’t known for, it’s persistence.

That’s a shame because without persistence nothing much ever gets done. Worse, what does get done tends to be shoddy, sloppy or just bad. Doing good is hard, practicing excellence is even harder and rarely are good or excellent tasks accomplished without persistence.

Thomas Edison famously said that “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” What that means is “inspired” ideas may come and go, but to make them function is a lot of hard work! And it doesn’t get done without persistence.

Merriam-Webster offers this as one way to define what persistence is: continuing or inclined to persist in a course. I like that. It quickly and simply captures what is needed in our lives. The decision to keep on keeping on. Staying the course or whatever other clichés you want to use.

They’re clichés because they are true, and you can’t really do any good in life without it. Being pretty laid back, this inclination to persist isn’t often seen as a defining characteristic of our River Culture.

But it ought to be.

Think about it. All those A-type personalities out there need to persist in relaxing at least every once in a while. Persistence isn’t about becoming a driven person who’s all work and no play. Persistence isn’t about being a workaholic.

Persistence is about continuing to pursue your goal, not stopping when the road gets rough, and being willing to do the hard things because in the end it’s worth it. Sure it’s hard to lose weight, get in shape, stop smoking or drinking, complete that project, etc. But in the end all that hard work will be worth it.

That’s one of the things we can learn from Edison. Do the hard work, carry on to completion and who knows? You too might be hailed as a genius! Imagine that. Me a genius? That’s not only a scary thought, but a real lowering of the bar!

So okay, maybe no-one will say you are a genius, but when you persist towards the good goal you are pursing you’ll have the pleasure in knowing that what you did was the right and smart thing to do.

And it’ll be worth it.

Next month I want to look the dark side of persistence, because there is one. But for now I’ll just get back to doing the hard work of not just being who I am, but trying to get a little bit better. Till next time.

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Louie Marsh is pastor of Christ’s Church on the River on the Parker Strip. Visit his website HERE.

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