Persistence is an essential factor in the procedure of transmuting desire into its monetary equivalent. The basis of persistence is the power of will.
The majority of people are ready to throw their aims and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on despite all opposition, until they attain their goal.
There may be no heroic connotation to the word persistence, but the quality is to the character of man what carbon is to steel.
Lack of persistence is one of the major causes of failure. Moreover, experience with thousands of people has proved that lack of persistence is a weakness common to the majority of men. It is a weakness that may be overcome by effort. The ease with which lack of persistence may be conquered will depend entirely upon the intensity of one's desire.
The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. If you find yourself lacking in persistence, this weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desires.
Fortunes gravitate to men whose minds have been prepared to attract them, just as surely as water gravitates to the ocean.
If you find you are weak in persistence, surround yourself with a mastermind group, and through the cooperative efforts of the members of this group, you can develop persistence.
Are you money conscious or poverty conscious? Poverty is attracted to the one whose mind is favorable to it, as money is attracted to him whose mind has been deliberately prepared to attract it, and through the same laws. Poverty consciousness will voluntarily seize the mind that is not occupied with money consciousness. A poverty consciousness develops without conscious application of habits favorable to it. The money consciousness must be created to order, unless one is born with such a consciousness.
Catch the full significance of the statements in the preceding paragraph, and you will understand the importance of persistence in the accumulation of a fortune. Without persistence, you will be defeated even before you start. With persistence you will win.
If you have ever experienced a nightmare, you will realize the value of persistence. You are lying in bed, half awake, with a feeling that you are about to smother. You are unable to turn over or to move a muscle. You realize that you must begin to regain control over your muscles. Through persistent effort of will power, you finally manage to move the fingers of one hand. By continuing to move your fingers, you extend your control to the muscles of one arm until you can lift it. Then you gain control of the other arm in the same manner. You finally gain control over the muscles of one leg and then extend it to the other leg. Then, with one supreme effort of will, you regain complete control over your muscular system and snap out of your nightmare. The trick has been turned step by step.
You may find it necessary to snap out of your mental inertia through a similar procedure, moving slowly at first and then increasing your speed until you gain complete control over your will. Be persistent no matter how slowly you may, at first, have to move. With persistence will come success.
If you select your mastermind group with care, you will have in it at least one person who will aid you in the development of persistence. Some men who have accumulated great fortunes did so because of necessity. They developed the habit of persistence, because they were so closely driven by circumstances that they had to become persistent.
Those who have cultivated the habit of persistence seem to enjoy insurance against failure. No matter how many times they are defeated, they finally arrive up toward the top of the ladder. Sometimes it appears that there is a hidden guide whose duty is to test men through all sorts of discouraging experiences. Those who pick themselves up after defeat and keep on trying arrive, and the world cries, "Bravo! I knew you could do it!" The hidden guide lets no one enjoy great achievement without passing the persistence test. Those who can't take it simply do not make the grade.
Those who can take it are bountifully rewarded for their persistence. They receive, as their compensation, whatever goal they are pursuing. That is not all. They receive something infinitely more important than material compensation: the knowledge that every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.
Climb over your failures. There are exceptions to this rule; a few people know from experience the soundness of persistence. They are the ones who have not accepted defeat as being anything more than temporary. They are the ones whose desires are so persistently applied that defeat is finally changed into victory. We who stand on the sidelines of life see the overwhelmingly large number who go down in defeat, never to rise again. We see the few who take the punishment of defeat as an urge to greater effort. These, fortunately, never learn to accept life's reverse gear. But what we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power that comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement. If we speak of this power at all, we call it persistence, and let it go at that. One thing we all know, if one does not possess persistence, one does not achieve noteworthy success in any calling.
As these lines are being written, I look up from my work and see before me, less than a block away, the great, mysterious Broadway, the "Graveyard of Dead Hopes" and the "Front Porch of Opportunity." From all over the world, people have come to Broadway seeking fame, fortune, power, love, or whatever it is that human beings call success. Once in a great while someone steps out from the long procession of seekers, and the world hears that another person has mastered Broadway. But Broadway is not easily nor quickly conquered. She acknowledges talent, recognizes genius, pays off in money, only after one has refused to quit.
Then we know he has discovered the secret of how to conquer Broadway. The secret is always inseparably attached to one word: persistence.
The secret is told in the struggle of Fannie Hurst, whose persistence conquered the Great White Way. She came to New York in 1915 to convert writing into riches. The conversion did not come quickly, but it came. For four years Miss Hurst learned about the sidewalks of New York from firsthand experience. She spent her days laboring and her nights hoping. When hope grew dim, she did not say, "All right Broadway, you win!" She said, "Very well, Broadway, you may whip some, but not me. I'm going to force you to give up."
One publisher, The Saturday Evening Post, sent her 36 rejection slips before she broke the ice and got a story across! The average writer, like the average in other walks of life, would have given up the job when the first rejection slip came. She pounded the pavements for four years because she was determined to win.
Then came the payoff. The spell had been broken, the unseen guide had tested Fannie Hurst, and she could take it. From that time on, publishers made a beaten path to her door. Money came so fast she hardly had time to count it. Then the moving picture men discovered her, and money came not in small change, but in floods.
Briefly, you have a description of what persistence is capable of achieving. Fannie Hurst is no exception. Wherever men and women accumulate great riches, you may be sure they first acquired persistence. Broadway will give any beggar a cup of coffee and a sandwich, but it demands persistence of those who go after the big stakes.
Kate Smith said "amen" when she read this. For years she sang, without money, and without price, before any microphone she could reach. Broadway said to her, "Come and get it, if you can take it." She did take it, until one happy day Broadway got tired and said, "Aw, what's the use? You don't know when you're whipped, so name your price, and go to work in earnest." Miss Smith named her price. It was plenty.
You can train yourself to be persistent. Persistence is a state of mind; therefore, it can be cultivated. Like all states of mind, persistence is based upon definite causes, among them these:
- Definiteness of purpose. Knowing what one wants is the first and perhaps the most important step toward the development of persistence. A strong motive forces one to surmount many difficulties.
- Desire. It is comparatively easy to acquire and to maintain persistence in pursuing the object of intense desire.
- Self-reliance. Belief in one's ability to carry out a plan encourages one to follow the plan through with persistence. Self-reliance can be developed through the principle described in the chapter on autosuggestion.
- Definiteness of plans. Organized plans, even though they may be weak and entirely impractical, encourage persistence.
- Accurate knowledge. Knowing that one's plans are sound, based upon experience or observation, encourages persistence; guessing instead of knowing destroys persistence.
- Cooperation. Sympathy, understanding, and harmonious cooperation with others tend to develop persistence.
- Will power. The habit of concentrating one's thoughts upon the building of plans for the attainment of a definite purpose leads to persistence.
- Habit. Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experiences upon which it feeds. Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by forced repetition of acts of courage. Everyone who has seen active service in war knows this.
Take inventory of yourself, and determine in what particular, if any, you are lacking in this essential quality, persistence. Measure yourself courageously, point by point, and see how many of the eight factors of persistence you lack. The analysis may lead to discoveries that will give you a new grip on yourself.
Here you will find the real enemies that stand between you and noteworthy achievement. Here you will find not only the symptoms indicating weakness of persistence, but also the deeply seated subconscious causes of this weakness. Study the list carefully, and face yourself squarely if you really wish to know who you are and what you are capable of doing. These are the weaknesses that must be mastered by all who accumulate riches:
- Failure to recognize and to define clearly exactly what one wants.
- Procrastination, with or without cause—usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses.
- Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.
- Indecision, the habit of "passing the buck" on all occasions, instead of facing issues squarely. Also backed by alibis.
- The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.
- Self-satisfaction. There is but little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.
- Indifference, usually reflected in one's readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.
- The habit of blaming others for one's mistakes and accepting unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.
- Weakness of desire, due to neglect in the choice of motives that impel action.
- Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. Based upon one or more of the six basic fears.
- Lack of organized plans, placed in writing, where they may be analyzed.
- The habit of neglecting to move on ideas or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
- Wishing instead of willing.
- The habit of compromising with poverty instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, to own.
- Searching for all the shortcuts to riches, trying to get without giving a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling, endeavoring to drive sharp bargains.
- Fear of criticism, failure to create plans and to put them into action because of what other people will think, do, or say. This enemy belongs at the head of the list, because it generally exists in one's subconscious mind, where its presence is not recognized.
People refuse to take chances in business because they fear the criticism that may follow if they fail. The fear of criticism in such cases is stronger than the desire for success.
Too many people refuse to set high goals for themselves, or even neglect selecting a career, because they fear the criticism of relatives and friends who may say, "Don't aim so high; people will think you are crazy."
When Andrew Carnegie suggested that I devote 20 years to the organization of a philosophy of individual achievement, my first impulse of thought was fear of what people might say. The suggestion set up a goal for me, far out of proportion to any I had ever conceived. As quick as a flash, my mind began to create alibis and excuses, all of them traceable to the inherent fear of criticism. Something inside of me said, "You can't do it; the job is too big and requires too much time. What will your relatives think of you? How will you earn a living? No one has ever organized a philosophy of success; what right have you to believe you can do it? Who are you, anyway, to aim so high? Remember your humble birth. What do you know about philosophy? People will think you are crazy." And they did. "Why hasn't some other person done this before now?"
These and many other questions flashed into my mind, and demanded attention. It seemed as if the whole world had suddenly turned its attention to me with the purpose of ridiculing me into giving up all desire to carry out Mr. Carnegie's suggestion.
I had a fine opportunity, then and there, to kill off ambition before it gained control of me. Later in life, after having analyzed thousands of people, I discovered that most ideas are stillborn and need the breath of life injected into them through definite plans of immediate action. The time to nurse an idea is at the time of its birth. Every minute it lives gives it a better chance of surviving. The fear of criticism is at the bottom of destruction of most ideas that never reach the planning and action stage.
Many people believe that material success is the result of favorable breaks. There is an element of grounds for the belief, but those depending entirely upon luck are nearly always disappointed, because they overlook another important factor that must be present before one can be sure of success. It is the knowledge with which favorable breaks can be made to order.
During the Depression, W. C. Fields, the comedian, lost all his money and found himself without income, without a job, and his means of earning a living, vaudeville, no longer existed. Moreover, he was past 60, when many men consider themselves old. He was so eager to stage a comeback that he offered to work without pay, in a new field, movies. In addition to his other troubles, he fell and injured his neck. To many, that would have been the place to give up and quit. But Fields was persistent. He knew that if he carried on, he would get the breaks sooner or later, and he did get them, but not by chance.
Marie Dressler found herself down and out, with her money gone, with no job, when she was about 60. She, too, went after the breaks, and got them. Her persistence brought an astonishing triumph late in life, long beyond the age when most men and women are done with ambition to achieve.
Eddie Cantor lost his money in the 1929 stock crash, but he still had his persistence and his courage. With these, plus two prominent eyes, he exploited himself back into an income of $10,000 a week. Truly, if one has persistence, one can get along very well without many other qualities.
The only break anyone can afford to rely upon is a self-made break. These come through the application of persistence. The starting point is definiteness of purpose.
Examine the first hundred people you meet, ask them what they want most in life, and 98 of them will not be able to tell you. If you press them for an answer, some will say security; many will say money; a few will say happiness; others will say fame and power; and still others will say social recognition, ease in living, ability to sing, dance, or write. But none of them will be able to define these terms or give the slightest indication of a plan by which they hope to attain these vaguely expressed wishes. Riches do not respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.
There are four simple steps that lead to the habit of persistence. They call for no great amount of intelligence, no particular amount of education, and but little time or effort.
The necessary steps are:
- A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment
- A definite plan, expressed in continuous action
- mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends, and acquaintances A
- A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose
These four steps are essential for success in all walks of life. These are the steps by which one may control one's economic destiny. They are the steps that lead to freedom and independence of thought. They are the steps that lead to riches, in small or great quantities. They lead the way to power, fame, and worldly recognition. They are the four steps that guarantee favorable "breaks." They are the steps that convert dreams into physical realities. They lead, also, to the mastery of fear, discouragement, and indifference.
There is a magnificent reward for all who learn to take these four steps. It is the privilege of writing one's own ticket, and of making life yield whatever price is asked.