Traits of a Warrior: Persistence

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Failure as a Decision

Sometimes, we fail because we are not fast enough, smart enough, strong enough, or skilled enough to perform a task. Most of the time, we fail because we decide to. This is called quitting. Truly, the line between legitimate failure - accepting your limitations - and quitting is pretty blurred. Too often, we let our sense of self-mportance get in the way of trying again, or we make up excuses to justify our quitting. Sometimes we call something that is not failure, failure. Cutting up my leg might trigger my mind to assess the attempt at failed, but it doesn't have to.

A Warrior never quits. He knows when he has failed, and he can accept that, but a true Warrior can see the difference between the limitations in his head and those in reality. In my case, blood pouring down a leg is generally considered a good sign to back off. But if I looked honestly at the injury, it was clear that it had a) only been caused by poor form which was preventing me from completing the set anyway, and b) didn't affect my muscles or bones nearly as much as it affected my head and my sense of confidence in my ability to complete the exercise. So I ignored that sense of doubt, that little voice in my head that said I shouldn't or couldn't go on, not because I am a masochist, but because a reasoned assessment of the situation suggested it was mistaken.

Nothing worth doing in life is easy, and most of those things are hard enough that we will mess up the first time, simply from lack of skill or being unprepared. But a lot of people try once and give up. Why is that, I wonder? I nearly did it myself when applying for jobs. Once I failed to get hired at OneVoice, I figured I was done for and would just settle for living in my parents' basement. Of course, I didn't settle for that, and the very next day I was out filling in applications. But what is it about human psychology that dictates that sense that one failure is equal to permanent failure?

Maybe it has to do with our days as hunter gatherers. If we failed at bringing down a mammoth, maybe it was better to conserve our energy than to try again. But even in that instance, the hunter who tried again and again, and eventually suceeded, would still win out in the end. Of course, the hunter that tried again and again, and failed, would eventually die of exhaustion when he should have been foraging for berries.

The Road to Success is Paved in Failure

I guess it comes down to how important your task is. Not everything we do deserves our all. But if it isn't something you care so much about succeeding in, why are you wasting your time trying anyway? A Warrior lives life purposefully, doing his best at all he tries his hand at, rather than never investing in anything. This means being willing to take a few bumps along the way and keep going despite setbacks.

The biggest takeaway I've found in all the inspirational literature is the biggest difference between those who succeed and those who fail is that the former try many, many, many, many times. They do not give up after the first failure, and often their first attempt is a failure. Skill or intelligence was not a relevant factor. Persistence was. So the next time you mess up or fail at something, don't even look at it as a setback. It's simply part of the process. In fact, actually think of it as a stepping stone in the right direction. If you're not failing, you're probably not taking a big enough risk anyway!

Carry on, brave Warrior!

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Image source: zoutedrop on Flickr