Persistence is the key component to success—plain and simple. Any other component can be discussed to death, but the one that’s universal to all success is persistence. All others are negotiable. Yes, you can be successful doing everything wrong 99% of the time as long as you do not quit. The importance of persistence applies to every endeavor. I once read that Jerry Seinfeld would set a goal and then mark on the calender every day that he did “anything” that contributed to the achievement of that goal. After he spent enough time without breaking any links in the chain, he achieved success. Bruce Lee expressed a similar philosophy: one small thing everyday is the way, not the occasional big effort. You’ll see—it will be the little victories at first, but, after a few small victories, each new victory will carry more and more weight. Eventually, these victories will build momentum and success will become inevitable.
Do not quit! A couple years ago, I was competing in the Visegrip Viking Challenge and had one weight left to get off the ground with the fishing pole. The handle spun out in my hands, and I let go. Right when my grip slipped, I heard Mike Burke scream, “WTF!! DON’T QUIT!!” His words burned into me deep. There were only a few seconds left on the clock and 0% chance of completion, but I was out there with champions. I had no excuse to let go, no matter what, and I did. I have never let that kind of caving in happen again. Anytime I am in a situation where I’m on the brink of quitting, I hear Mike Burke’s voice.
Quitting is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever helped me on my path to success. It spits on the graves of my ancestors. It is a never to be had again opportunity to build momentum towards success and could be the link in the chain that is the catalyst to future achievement. It should never be acceptable to quit. Grips will slip, falls will happen, and clocks will run out. When you quit, though, you need to hold onto the feeling of disgust and disappointment in yourself—don’t forget it. Let it eat at you anytime you hear the clock ticking down. Life is finite and 1440 minutes a day is all you get. There’s no such thing as a second chance. Anytime you are in a second chance situation, you are wasting away the space that should have been used for the next accomplishment.
Remove the concept of quitting from your mind. Whether it is competing, coaching, mentoring, parenting, anything—there is only one unacceptable behavior and one unforgivable sin: quitting. Every obstacle can be overcome as long as you never quit. Those who appear invincible, unstoppable, and indestructible all have the one quality that is the kryptonite to failure: PERSISTENCE.
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“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”—Bruce Lee