"We are not born with abilities. This comes from practice, persistence and perseverance."
– Debasish Mridha, American physician and author
About This Week's Chat
We moved into a new house recently, after having lived in an apartment for nine years. Long before the move took place, I told my husband that as soon as the move was complete I would get a dog.
Many years before moving into the apartment I had kept Rottweilers. Although many people don't like them, I think that they're a misunderstood breed. Moreover, they're often not kept in the right conditions, or by the right type of owner.
I planned on getting a purebred Rottweiler puppy, and I even started thinking of names. One name that kept coming to my mind was Kaiser, so Kaiser it was.
A Dog Tale Starts
About a month after we moved into the house, I sat browsing Facebook. A friend of mine – who also owns a Rottweiler – tagged me in a post from Rottie Rescue South Africa. He commented that I should consider adopting the dog that he'd tagged.
When I clicked on the post, my heart almost stopped. It was one of the most beautiful Rottweilers I'd ever seen, and his name was… wait for it… Kaiser!
When I'd gone through the selection, approval and introduction process, it was finally time to go and fetch Kaiser and bring him home.
Resistance From Everywhere
Almost everybody that saw him, or that I spoke to, told me I was mad, that I shouldn't keep him, that they would never do it. He was "trouble on four paws."
Apart from the wonderful folks at Rottie Rescue, I only had three supporters: my husband, my friend who'd suggested the adoption, and my stepfather (a dog lover who was also a military dog handler when he was young).
Despite all the negative opinions, I persisted. Kaiser was my dog.
To say that the first few days were disastrous would be an understatement.
I knew that Kaiser had been waiting for a whole year to be adopted – not because there was something wrong with him, but simply because Rottie Rescue had to find the right person. So, I didn't know how the "kennel stress" would make him behave.
Let's be clear, Kaiser is a big pooch. He's three years old, weighs 52 kilograms, and has a set of teeth to match. When he arrived, he had the manners of a six-month-old puppy!
While it's easy to discipline a puppy, it's a bit different to discipline a fully grown, slightly stressed dog. I couldn't leave him alone even for a few minutes because I never knew what he would get up to.
At times I felt totally overwhelmed. More than once I just sat on the stairs and cried, and asked Kaiser, and myself, what I had gotten into. Quite a few times I considered returning him, but something in me refused to give up.
I couldn't allow the situation to get the better of me. And, when he looked at me with his big doggy eyes, I forgave him and decided to try harder.
The days turned into weeks, and the weeks are now almost a month. During this time I gave him interactive playtime and lots of brushing, love and cuddles for at least two hours a day.
We do focused training for another hour, divided into 15-minute segments throughout the day. Patience, praise and treats certainly do the trick.
The Value of Perseverance
As I'm writing this, Kaiser is at my feet snoring away. He's learned to lie down, wait, come, catch, fetch, and search. He still has his moments, but he's mostly well-behaved and follows me like my own shadow.
If I hadn't persevered, Kaiser would have had to repeat the whole process at another home, which would have been traumatic for him. And me? I would have missed out on an amazing dog and a companion who is always ready to give love and just be by my side.
Your Troubles With Perseverance and Persistence
During last Friday's #MTtalk Twitter chat we talked about perseverance and persistence. Here are the questions we asked, and some of the responses:
Q1. How do you differentiate between perseverance and persistence?
@SayItForwardNow I think of "perseverance" as an attitude and "persistence" as a series of actions to achieve a goal.
@goiuby Perseverance is continuing forward despite a hardship. Persistence is continuing forward despite an annoyance. Depending on the situation these two words can very easily be confused, and even intermingled.
Q2. Think of a time when you found it extremely difficult to persevere. What made it so difficult?
@PearlMorbs Mental or emotional exhaustion has been the biggest blocker that I've encountered. It sneaks up on you, too; physically you may be ready to push forward, but discover later that mentally you are not.
@Mphete_Kwetli What makes it so difficult to persevere is the lack of options and choices in the situation.
Q3. Why was it important to you to persevere?
A common theme that emerged was that people wanted to prove to themselves that they were able to persevere and reach their goals. Other reasons included:
@NWarind To be a living role model for my kids.
@DrRossEspinoza For me, it has been a way to be honest with myself on what matters and demonstrate to myself I'm worthy.
Q4. In times when you felt like giving up, what helped you to persevere?
Common themes here were having goals, knowing your "why," and the importance of support from other people. Other interesting reasons were:
@yehiadief Experience from an earlier time would make me wait, and try and try and keep on going.
@Jikster2009 Talking about it to friends/colleagues/partner to help see the wood from the trees and for a bit of grounding. Trying to remain focused on what's important. Sleep also helps.
(Thanks for the reminder about needing to sleep, James! It's something that we easily and often neglect.)
Q5. What events have shaped your ability to persevere?
Sometimes during a chat, you realize that what you've been through is small, compared to what others have endured.
@MicheleDD_MT Being bullied at work, surviving multiple restructures and layoffs, managing through a debilitating illness… all of these events have strengthened my resolve to persevere. Teaches you to be resourceful and find solutions.
@JusChas My childhood. I am the kid of a functioning alcoholic. I needed to become an adult at age 10, and was surrounded by much pain and struggle. It was those situations that made me want more. Plus watching television shows where kids always grew up and went to college.
Q6. What does it feel like – physically, emotionally, and mentally – to be persistent?
While being persistent energizes some of us, others find it draining.
@BernieMixon Fatigue, mental and physical, leads to sleepless nights. Lack of sleep can lead to a lack of perspective, which leads to poor decision-making.
@Midgie_MT Persistence feels, to me, like swimming upstream against the current. My head driving me forward when my body has its brakes on.
Q7. Is there a time, an occasion, when it is wise not to persist?
@JKatzaman If you know you're wrong but persist because you won't admit it, you give yourself and others a bad day.
@sejal_dattani A good example would be a relationship you've been in (or are in) that hasn't gotten better over time. You know the person is not the right one, you have your daily arguments and disagree.
Q8. How has persistence paid off for you?
Terry summarized in one sentence how many of us feel:
@BrainBlenderTec It has made me who I am, and that leads to quiet moments of gratitude.
Q9. How can you help someone else to become more persistent?
@BRAVOMedia1 Give encouragement, kindness, gratitude, and forgiveness. There is nobility in compassion, beauty in empathy, and grace in forgiveness.
@goiuby Mentorship, coaching, friendship, leadership, there are so many "-ships" that can come into play here! Ultimately, be there for them when they need you.
Q10. Based on what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self about perseverance and persistence?
@Yolande_MT Don't give up because it's difficult. It's even more difficult to have to repeat the process. Learn from Nike: just do it.
@MicheleDD_MT Determine your "why." Being clear on your purpose creates a strong motivational force that will sustain your drive and energy to reach your goal.
To read all the tweets, have a look at the Wakelet collection of this chat.
Although perseverance is a great characteristic, you can become exhausted if you don't know how to balance your life and when to say "enough is enough." Next time on #MTtalk, we're going to talk about managing exhausted team members. In our Twitter poll this week, we'd like to know what you think is the most likely cause of constant exhaustion. Please vote in our Twitter poll, here.
In the meantime, here are some resources relating to perseverance and persistence. (Please note, some of the resources listed below are only available in full to members of the Mind Tools Club.)
How Can I Stop Procrastinating?
Are You A Procrastinator?
How to Learn From Your Mistakes
Overcoming Fear of Failure
Overcoming Procrastination Video
8 Common Goal-Setting Mistakes
Helping People Take Responsibility
Amabile and Kramer's Progress Theory
Breaking Bad Habits
Developing Personal Accountability
How to Develop Long-Term Focus