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Issue 26

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In this issue ~~

* Perseverance

* Creative Tip

* Wise Words

* Bookshelf

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Perseverance

There's a myth that once you've found your "right path" and are doing work you love, that opportunities will fall in your lap and everything will evolve effortlessly. Certainly, there are times when it happens that way, but in the long run, success in any endeavor takes hard work and persistence. While talent, skill, connections and luck will help get you where you're going, it's perseverance that will ultimately get you there.

We live in a time when we expect to take a pill or take a course and find ourselves healed or enlightened in an instant. But both artists and sages know that mastery doesn't happen in a weekend workshop. It takes years of persistently applying yourself to your craft or your studies, as well as developing the will and discipline to see you through the tough times.

Watching Olympic champions has been a great lesson to me. I remember watching gymnast Julianne McNamara in the 1984 Olympics, as she fell off the balance beam. While I sat there feeling sorry for her, McNamara hoisted herself back on the beam without missing a beat and completed her routine. She won a gold and a silver in those Olympics. She may have felt sorry for herself later, but I learned that champions stay focused on their goal and don't quit because of a setback.

In the classic Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill states that having a clear vision, along with a strong conviction that you can achieve it, and then holding fast to your vision is an important factor in achieving your goals. Writer Sara Caldwell, in her book, So You Want to be a Screenwriter, gives several examples of screenwriters who went through years of discouragement and finally achieved success because they weren't willing to quit. They stuck it out and believed in themselves, despite evidence to the contrary, as well as friends and relatives urging them to give it up and do something more practical.

The catch is, you never know when success may be right around the corner. A favorite teacher of mine gives this example: A single unit of algae lies on the surface of a pond. Each day, the amount of algae on the surface of the pond doubles. So on the second day, you have two units, four on the third, eight on the fourth, and so on. At first, coverage of the pond surface increases slowly. But then one day, half the pond is covered. The following day, the entire pond is covered. The tricky part in life is that you never know when that half-covered day has come and success is only one step away.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you stick it out:

~ Have a clear vision of where you want to go. Thoughts are the first step toward manifestation, and the clearer they are, the more quickly and easily you can make them real.

~ Formulate an action plan -- concrete steps you can take toward your goal. Include both short-term and long-term plans.

~ Create a schedule. Practice discipline by sticking to that schedule, even when you don't feel like it. That way, you develop the strength of will to push through days of discouragement or creative blocks.

~ Take baby steps. Trying to accomplish the whole thing in one step can throw you into overwhelm by making the task seem insurmountable. Breaking it down makes it feel more doable.

~ Practice patience. Be realistic about how long it will take to achieve your vision. Remember that life doesn't always provide a clear, linear path toward your goal. You may run into obstacles and emotional blocks along the way, so be prepared to tackle them.

~ Create options. Have one or more backup plans, so that you don't get thrown when step 4 of plan A doesn't happen. Your backup plan may include ways to support yourself while you're working toward a new career path.

~ Hold an image of yourself having reached your goal successfully. See yourself standing beside your completed work, or see the person you've become (perhaps in new surroundings) having accomplished it. Some people like to build a "treasure map" collage that includes pictures or items representing their goals and keep it on their bulletin board or refrigerator. You might include a picture of yourself as the centerpiece.

~ Don't believe everything you hear. There are people who will try to discourage you "for your own good" or tell you you're not good enough, and we tend to believe that if someone tells us something it must be true. What really matters is your own truth and your belief in yourself, and holding onto that with conviction. There are dozens of stories of famous people who were discouraged by their teachers who went on to fabulous success because they wouldn't be stopped.

~ Get support. Surround yourself with people who believe in and encourage you. Have someone who's willing to listen to you when you feel stuck and frustrated -- if you can vent your feelings, you can let them go and move on.

~ Work with a network. Napoleon Hill talks of Mastermind groups, consisting of several people with varied talents and a unified goal. Along with giving you access to skills and resources that you don't personally possess, a group like this can provide you with someone you can be accountable to, who won't let you off the hook because something didn't work out and you got discouraged.

~ Keep your spirits up. Hope and expectation are powerful forces that can draw success to you. Give yourself rewards as you accomplish each step of your action plan, and give yourself periodic breaks to rejuvenate when the going gets particularly rough.

~ Hold onto your vision. As you work toward your goal on a day-to-day basis, things will happen (or not happen) that will make it seem like your goal is unreachable or not meant to be. Holding the bigger picture can help you move through each day, knowing that in the long run, you can get where you want to go.

~ Stay in touch with your passion. Spend time with people who share your passion. Explore new aspects of it through classes and experimentation. Be careful that the quest to earn money doesn't dull your passion, and find ways to breathe new life into it.

Setting your sights high can require a good deal of stamina and endurance. By facing each challenge, you can develop discipline and a strength of will that will give you the fortitude to face each subsequent step. And holding onto your passion and conviction that your goal is worthwhile will keep you moving forward. Be patient and keep putting one foot in front of another, and one day you'll turn around and be amazed at how far you've come.

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Creative Tip

When I'm tired, I've found that it's easy for my negative, discouraging inner voices to creep in. When that happens, I put my work aside and get some rest or do something to pamper myself. Where do your negative voices show up? Begin to notice when and how so you can be aware, protect yourself and not take their messages seriously.

 

Wise Words

All the performances of human art, at which we look with praise or wonder, are instances of the resistless force of perseverance.

~ Samuel Johnson

Genius is only the power of making continuous efforts. The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it: so fine that we are often on the line and do not know it. How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience, would have achieved success. As the tide goes out, so it comes clear in. In business, sometimes, prospects may seem darkest when really they are on the turn. A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success. There is no failure except in no longer trying. There is no defeat except from within, no really insurmountable barrier save our own inherent weakness of purpose.

~ Elbert Hubbard

If you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.

~ Norman Vincent Peale


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Bookshelf

(click on the book graphic to see a description at Amazon.com)

Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You . . . Cynthia Kersey

Staying With It: Role Models of Perseverance . . . Emerson Klees

The "Keep on Going" Spirit . . . Ted Lewis

Think and Grow Rich . . . Napoleon Hill

So You Want to Be A Screenwriter: How To Face the Fears and Take the Risks . . . Sara Caldwell and Marie-Eve Kielson

Perseverance: The Story of Thomas Alva Edison: Value . . . Peter Murray

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© 2000 Sharon Good. All rights reserved.

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