I find it fascinating how the most successful people I know are rarely the most talented. It doesn’t matter ... whether it’s business, inter-personal relationships, the arts, sports ... the people who achieve the greatest heights all share a single quality that propels them above others. It’s not talent, intelligence or luck. It’s not knowing the right people or being in the right place at the right time. What is it that the successful have that others do not?
Successful people simply do not quit. They don’t give up. I’ve told the story before, but it’s appropriate to do so again.
I’m the author of three successful books. To begin writing a book isn’t hard, but completing the task is monumental. There are thousands of people out there that have a book in their head and heart. They began writing with passion but at some point, early in the writing process, they stop. Starting and completing a book project of 80,000 words or so is a monumental task that few ever complete. Why do they stop? They do not have the persistence to finish. Now let’s look at the very few who do finish. Writing the book, as difficult as it is, is easier than getting published. My first book, "Playing with the Enemy," was rejected 74 times by publishers. It was the 75th that took a chance on an inexperienced and unknown author and Playing with the Enemy became a surprise hit. A surprise to everyone but me. I knew if I could get it published, the book would resonate with audiences. That belief is what drove me to not quit.
What would happen if you didn’t quit?
How many talented baseball players left their dreams of major league stardom behind because they gave up too soon? How many artists or musicians stopped short of the coming success they could have enjoyed? How many marriages end in divorce because one or both parties in the relationship just decide to give up? In each case, they didn’t have the persistence to see it through to a successful end.
Is persistence the only quality needed to succeed?
Of course not, but it is the most important. Who really thinks Johnny Cash or Bob Dylan had a great singing voice? They had talent to be sure but I’m certain I can find someone within five miles of my home with a better voice.
So, if persistence is most important, where and how do I get it?
Persistence is driven by your belief system. If you believe you have talent or ability, that belief drives your success. If you don’t believe, sell yourself! Face it, if you think you don’t have a chance, why would you try?
It’s rarely the most talented that achieve the pinnacle of success. Of course, talent matters, but ability is something that can be achieved through dogged determination. Sticking with your dream and driving to greater heights through practice, study and a passionate drive that always ask the question: If others can reach the top and achieve their dreams, why not me?
My dad had a simple statement that is applicable. If I were to ask him why most people don’t succeed, he’d respond, “It’s easier not to …” Apply that as the answer to almost any question.
Why aren’t you disciplined? It’s easier not to be.
Why weren’t you on time? It’s easier not to be.
Why didn’t you stay and work on your marriage? It’s easier not to work on it.
Why won’t you quit smoking? It’s easier not to quit.
Why aren’t you a good student? It’s easier not to get good grades.
Why didn’t you get that promotion? It’s easier not to get it.
Why are you not financially successful? It’s easier not to be.
Why didn’t you finish that book you were writing? It’s easier not to finish.
Apply that answer to almost any question of success or achievement and it is almost always true. It is easier not to succeed. Success takes persistent hard work. It takes the attitude that screams that you will not be denied the success you desire. It requires that dogged persistence that says, yes, it’s easier to quit, but you are willing to stick to the task at hand and pay the price for success. As the old adage proclaims, “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it!”
The truth is, if you dig in and not quit, you will find the only resistance is you. If you chisel away the resistance, you will find a clearer path to your success.
Take the road less traveled. The vast majority will always say, “It’s easier not to.” In a world dominated by those unwilling to pay the price, success is there for the taking for those who do.
It’s never too late.
Why not you?
GARY W. MOORE is a freelance columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com