Many of us have lofty dreams and creative ideas. However, somewhere in the process of bringing them to fruition we lost momentum, and they crash and burn in our imagination as we struggle to keep up with daily life. A great plan must be executed to become effective. Without sustained effort, any plan, no matter how innovative and promising, is doomed to failure. The key to success is endurance.
Why do we need endurance? If we tend to give up on something when we no longer enjoy it or it becomes difficult, we might miss out on exciting discoveries or achievements. Famed basketball pro Michael Jordan reportedly said, “You have to be willing to miss the 999 shots to be able to make the one winning shot.” Had he given up on basketball after missing numerous shots, he wouldn’t have gone on to enjoy the iconic success he later earned.
Few processes are smooth and seamless. Obstacles often pop up along the way. The weak in spirit are easily discouraged and give up, while those who persevere keep going until they solve the problem or reach the goal. Famous inventors like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell did not meet with ready success; they keep failing with one experiment after another until they finally reach the pinnacle of success – the magnitude of which continues to resound throughout the world today due to ongoing innovations and improvements that build on their original accomplishments.
Without endurance, we fall short of exploring all options and clearing all hurdles. We doom ourselves and our initiatives to failure without giving them a fair chance.
How do we develop endurance? Time, effort, and patience are the three critical elements. Patience is a virtue, we often hear. Learning to be patient in a fast-paced world can be challenging. It seems like everyone wants everything now – immediately. We place difficult demands on ourselves and others. We miss out on golden opportunities and motivational resources because of our rushed lifestyles. When we are willing to devote time to something, it often increases in value, like equity in real estate. Without the crucial ingredient of time, we fail to establish a solid framework of consideration for whatever we hope to incubate.
Anything worth having in life is worth working for, an old adage claims. There are many instances of simple people from poverty-stricken backgrounds putting their shoulder to the boulder to make their dreams come true. For some, this may mean working overtime or taking a second job to finance a dream, such as enrolling in classes to learn job skills or to pursue new interests that could lead to a lucrative career, such as photography, writing, auto mechanics, or home decorating. Donating time to become a volunteer or an intern can forge valuable connections to those with the authority to offer a unique opportunity. Spending time in worthwhile endeavors is an aspect of endurance that should not be overlooked.
Effort is another important feature of endurance. Lackluster effort on the job will not bring praise and rewards; instead, it may lead to being singled out for criticism or even demotion. A half-hearted approach to building a dream will likely allow the competition to win. Sustained, consistent effort with a hard push toward the finish line fosters endurance that will get the job done. Encompassing reliability and responsibility, effort builds character while making dreams come true. The movie Roots, for example, was 12 years in the making. But the finished product was well worth the effort. Many great films and other works of art are created over the span of several years; they do not appear suddenly or frivolously, but require years of strong effort to reach a state of readiness for others to appreciate.
Patience seems to be in short supply these days, perhaps due to the increasingly fast-paced society we live in. We expect instant gratification through various media, including online surfing and fast food drive-through restaurants. When we don’t get what we want, when we want it, we either give up or get mad, neither of which is productive. Alternatively, we can learn patience when we accept what cannot be changed without complaint, while changing the variables within our control for better outcomes. This requires self-control, a thoughtful attitude, and the endurance to persist toward a more positive handling of the situation.
What are the benefits of endurance? In addition to the aforementioned advantages of enduring through a difficult or long-term process, endurance reminds us that better things lie ahead. Even if our hypothesis in trying out a new process ends in failure, we will have obtained new knowledge along the way. By ruling out what doesn’t work, we have eliminated one option and have fewer remaining alternatives to explore.
Endurance not only completes the task at hand, but also builds enduring characteristics that can benefit other areas of life. Surviving a catastrophic loss comes to mind, or persisting in a very difficult relationship. Hanging on during a prolonged illness or maintaining an upbeat attitude at work when the boss doesn’t like you are more examples. Staying focused on what needs to be done is paramount. Don’t be sidetracked by emotions, detractors, or insignificant circumstances. Follow the thread of what’s important to its completion. Not only will you end up with measurable results, but you will feel better for completing the project. You will also build a reserve of endurance that can be used for future endeavors. Endurance is a trait worth pursuing in its own right. The success that comes with meeting a goal or reaching a new level of achievement then becomes secondary and emblematic of your capabilities and strengths.