noun – 1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
It’s a word I don’t hear much these days, let alone see in action. The act of staying on course regarding one’s goals, despite difficulty and discouragement, seems to be something of a rarity nowadays.
I grew up in an age where perseverance was the norm. When people had a goal, when they had a dream, they ran after it with everything they had. They didn’t give up, they didn’t pull out a multitude of excuses, they didn’t cast blame for their surrender to others. I was molded by this ideal that revolved around the idea that once you put your mind to something, once you committed to something – anything: a cause, a belief, a goal – you didn’t give up until you reached the end, crossed the finish line, achieved victory.
Nowadays, I don’t see that kind of drive, not very often, anyway. I see a lot of people giving up because something is too hard. I see a lot of people giving up because of discouragement from friends, family, and enemies alike. I see a lot of people giving up because they got sidetracked with other goals, easier goals that only take half the effort to accomplish.
There are the few who chug along, bleeding and sweating and saving to achieve their goal. They reach the finish line, out of breath and out of energy. They reach the success they were aiming for all along, and they are rewarded with the object of their goal and the feeling of accomplishment, the former which gives a physical reward to their efforts, and the latter which gives a deep-rooted quality of satisfaction that will in turn help one to achieve success in future goal-achieving ventures.
But I also see those who achieve success through shortcut or entitled means. In other words, if someone has the goal of raising $1000 for a vehicle, they know they need to work and save to achieve that $1000, which they can then take to the dealership or a private owner to purchase the car they want/need. But what if this individual was handed $1000 in exchange for nothing? They could then take that $1000 and purchase their vehicle. Done. What if this individual was given a car, bypassing the need for the $1000? Done.
Does the value of that individual’s goal change because they were given – in exchange for nothing – the means to achieve their goal? Is it wrong, if I’m saving $1000 for a car, for someone to gift me that $1000 or the car itself? It bypasses the need for me to persevere in my efforts, but it does grant me the item or accomplishment I was striving to achieve.
But what is lost in that transaction? Does it build my character to be handed the money or the vehicle or the goal? Does it build my level of perseverance, my dedication to a single-minded focus?
I believe we lose a lot when we are given things.
No, I’m not speaking of being given a need. If you need a car to get to and from work to pay the bills for your family, of course it’s a blessing to be given a form of transportation. I’m referring to things we want, things we decide we’re going to chase after.
In this life, in terms of our hopes and dreams, I think it benefits us to have to work hard towards what we’re hoping to achieve. It does more than build character, it builds in us a sense of accomplishment, it helps us to count the cost of what we’re striving toward, and it helps us appreciate the things we accomplish more.
When our son asks for a toy in the store – and we’re not close to a birthday or other exceptions – we tell him we have a list of chores he can do for money to save up for the toy. He used to moan and groan, but now when we tell him that, he gets excited and repeats to himself how much he has to save up for the object of his desire.
I think in doing this, we draw out the actual value of an item. Both its monetary value, and its value to us. If I want something bad enough, what am I willing to endure, what am I willing to sacrifice, to get it? If that goal is important enough to me, I’ll do what needs to be done, even if it’s hard, even if it’s inconvenient, even if it’s going to require some degree of sacrifice. The very acts that I endure and accomplish to reach that goal actually add more value to the end goal.
What are we doing to persevere? In the example I gave about my son, there are other parents I see that hand their kid every single toy they ask for. Mind you, I’m not implying it’s evil to do nice things for your kids or others every now and then.
But when we have the chance, we should instill in them the values that we ourselves should be cherishing. To have to persevere, we don’t only draw out the value of something, we also draw out our character, and the value of that is priceless.