Achievers Persevere

One of the most fundamental qualities of ongoing achievers is the courage to persevere.

For many years we have been studying the development of creative behaviours of people in a number of countries. We have found that one of the most fundamental qualities of ongoing achievers is the courage to persevere –– not to give up so easily –– and to keep on telling yourself that you are not beaten and the goal can be achieved.

The Japanese were one of those groups of people that we studied that showed exceptional perseverance. One group of electronic engineers had the problem of designing a camera for a special purpose. They created one that met most of their requirements but it was too expensive to manufacture – and so they kept on researching and they kept on planning. The new challenge was to reduce the cost and this they did – not a trivial reduction in cost but a significant one. But that was still not the end. They then persevered to expand to more markets.

The courage to persevere is to keep on believing that there is a better way. Unfortunately, most people, when confronted by real and legitimate obstacles (and who are not), choose to think in the “problem mode” and begin to find reasons why it is impossible to carry on. This is where ““let’’s give in”” and ““let’’s go back”” should be converted to “let’’s keep going” and “let’’s do it.” Whether or not you eventually reach your point B, will depend on your courage to persevere in spite of setbacks, discouragements and disappointments. You are the architect in charge of designing and redesigning your life. Don’’t stop – stoppers will never know what they might have been!

I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. – Henry David Thoreau

Achievers Take Risks

We will have to rediscover our courage to take risks.

We believe that we were born to take risks. In the behaviour of the young child, we see many indications of natural, spontaneous risk-taking. All the child is asking the parent, and later the teacher is to take her hand in this endeavour to go beyond and break the boundaries of her immediate world.

But unfortunately so often, instead of developing the skills and attitudes to take risks, the opposite happens. The child is forced to adhere to the confines imposed by prevailing traditions, rules and regulations and starts to avoid taking risks completely, in spite of her natural instinct to expand her horizons. We often think that allowing children to take risks will stimulate unruliness and a culture of bad behaviour. Not so. True courage and creativity always go hand in hand with good discipline, respect for yourself and others, and respect for the world in which we take our risks.

Perhaps in years gone by it was still possible to journey to your point B without taking risks – but in this century and beyond we will have to rediscover our courage to take risks. We now live permanently in a world of flux, instability and change.

Does this mean that people who apparently resist change and refuse to undertake any risk to cross a new frontier are worthless and irrelevant in the modern world? The answer is a resounding “no.” Many of those people have learned well and achieved well within the paradigms of the 20th century.

But now they have uncomfortable feelings about the future and hang on to past behaviour. They are suspicious of any new behaviour that goes beyond their old experiences. But human beings have the capacity to confront old beliefs and attitudes that have little meaning in a drastically changing world. It doesn’t matter how old you are or where you come from.

Our experiences during the past few years with people over the age of 70 have once again convinced us that you can be 77 or 81 or whatever age – and still change those old beliefs about yourself and your environment. We have seen people who walk away from our programmes and start their own businesses at the age of 70 and 80. For the first time in their lives, they had the courage to depend on their own abilities to create and risk – and not to depend on others to do it for them.

Not to risk is to suffer the incalculable loss of never knowing what might have been.