Keep on Persisting

As I mentioned previously, I was working on one of my books (Starting Your Creative Business) and I wrote about three prerequisites you need to have before you even start.

As I did, I realized that you really need those three things (Passion, Persistence, and a Plan) throughout your whole business life (and can make the case for throughout your whole life – business or otherwise.) So, I decided to share about them briefly here even though you may have heard these before, because, if you are like me, an occasional reminder is in order. Yesterday, I talked about Passion. Today, I want to cover Persistence and tomorrow, a Plan.


Ever since I discovered the quote by Woody Allen, I have loved it. And I am guilty of referring to it… some might say too much. If so, it is only because I find so much truth in it and so much applicability. Oh yes… and I keep repeating it because current culture and society tends to ignore it.

The quote?

“Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” Woody Allen

One reason I like it so much, is that it makes success seem easy. Now, success takes effort. And other things, too. But most of us stop too short because it seems too hard. We give up… especially when things get boring… or tiring… or difficult… or our Attention Deficit Disorder kicks in. (Note that most of us have some level of ADD even if we don’t have the clinical diagnosis. It comes with being human.)

But just showing up seems easier. Now, it can be REALLY hard when you don’t feel like doing whatever it is that you are supposed to show up for. But it goes a long way to taming the ADD beast within us. “Hey, how tough can it be to just show up? It’s not like you have to do anything once you show up.”

And that is the wonder of it. Because once you actually show up, it is almost impossible to not do something… constructive. And once you do something constructive, you are making progress. And consistent progress (in the right direction – we’ll talk about that tomorrow) leads toward success. (No, it doesn’t equal success… there is more to it than just showing up… but that is the other 20 percent.)

I have no idea if Aesop’s Fables are still being told to kids. They may be too slow for today’s culture. But they persisted for thousands of years because they carried valuable life lessons. Lessons that are still applicable because humans don’t change much. And for all our technology and sophistication, the core of life still hasn’t changed. Every time somebody comes up with a new theory or scheme that makes it all obsolete, it turns out to be just that… a scheme. (For instance: Enron, Madoff, the “new economy” of the tech bubble of the 90s, mortgage-backed securities, your favorite here.)

The fable that fits this post is that of The Tortoise and the Hare. In the race between the tortoise and the hare, the hare gets off to an early lead (no surprise) but is afflicted with the ADD we all have (along with a touch of arrogance) that lets him get distracted. He sidelines himself while the tortoise just keeps plodding along. Ultimately, the tortoise crosses the finish line before the hare.

There are lots of stories, myths, fables, examples, and quotes about this subject… all illustrating and encouraging persistence. Books could be written on the subject (and have been.) I am not going to drag them all out for you. Instead, I encourage you to keep your eyes open for them… you will run into them nearly every day if you are looking for them.

In the end, it is persistence more than talent (or genius) that determines success. (And I say that as one who is talented but learned the persistence lesson the hard way.)

In your business, keep persisting. Keep going after new customers. Keep working to make your existing customers happy. Keep doing the fundamentals in your business. Keep growing. Keep on keeping on.

What strategies do you use to show up? How have you kept on in the face of difficult times? Please use the comments and share with the rest of us.

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