Why Advice about Persistence is Bad for You

You hear it all of the time:  {Insert Famous Name Here} struggled, suffered, and failed many times; but was PERSISTENT and eventually succeeded.

And, because YOU have struggled and suffered, or find yourself deeply in debt because of poor cash flow; you are comforting yourself with the thought that “Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before inventing the light bulb.”  Maybe that will be you, you think.    So you just keep trying.   “One day….” you say to yourself.

But, for most of you, your interpretation of the value of “persistence” is not going to help you.

If you think I’m too harsh, then compare YOUR “Persistence” honestly  to Thomas Edison’s.  Are ALL of these true for you?

1. Have a DEFINITE, Crystal Clear, Goal.  Not some fuzzy, “I hope to be successful,” goal.  But a clear definition of success.    Whether you work with a billion $ company, or a startup, you must be crystal clear from the start as to how you will define success.   If you do not define specific success criteria IN ADVANCE, and are unwilling to compromise your accountability to achieve that goal, you will allow yourself to justify mediocre performance.

2.  WRITE DOWN the results of your “experiments.”  When you meet with a prospect who does not buy, for example, are you WRITING DOWN exactly what happened and what you will do in the future to get better.  You can’t just “think” about what you would improve.

3.  Open yourself up try different (sometimes dramatically different) approaches.  It is not as if Edison tried 10,000 times with the same approach; or that he was looking to make incremental improvements on a kerosene lamp..  He used different shapes, different metals, different processes;  Mr. Edison was willing to discard what did not work, and do something completely different.    But, how many businesses and individuals get wrapped up with doing the same thing over and over because of an unwillingness to be open to (or fear of) new approaches; always hoping that, somehow, their “persistence” will mean it will work “this time”?

4.  Strive to achieve MANY successes, not just one (even if that one is HUGE)     Thomas Edison invented much more than just the light bulb.   Among his numerous inventions were also the phonograph and the motion picture camera, which were pretty impressive inventions themselves.   In fact, he held 1,093 patents (ONE THOUSAND and NINETY THREE!).   Mr. Edison was not content having just one big success, and neither should you.

5.  Take ACTION.   Mr. Edison would never have gotten where he did without action.  I have said this before, and I will say it again.  You cannot spend all of your time “Getting ready to get ready.”  Stop spending hours on “your website,” meeting with “strategic partners,” and making unfocused “Social Media” postings; spend more time marketing to and meeting with your ideal target customers.

In thee end, “persistence” alone does not guarantee success; you must have a definite aim and a willingness continuously learn, think BIG, try new approaches and tactics, and do whatever it takes to get there.  Then, if you persist even in the face of challenges, you WILL succeed!


I help people who have the mindset to build an AMAZING, Accelerating business.  Contact me for an initial consultation, business analysis, and ideation session.   Email my assistant Kelly@CoachRogerBoneno.com to schedule a time.

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