We’ve all read or heard about the inspirational stories of those who persevered through adversity, disappointment, and rejection but tried just one more time… and enjoyed tremendous payoffs as a result.
- Henry Ford went broke five times before founding Ford Motor Company.
- Dr. Seuss opened 27 rejection letters before publishing his first book.
- Walt Disney was fired for having ‘no imagination’.
- Colonel Sanders endured 1,000+ rejections before his now famous chicken recipe was picked up.
- Thomas Edison resolutely waded through 1,000 unsuccessful attempts before inventing the light bulb.
And they were just that – stories – to me until last month when I had my own personal (albeit more modest) experience of the payoff of persistence. While vacationing on a small island off the coast of Los Angeles this summer, my daughter Jenna and I decided to take a short afternoon hike. We’d not been on this trail before. My husband dropped us off and promised to return in 90 minutes.
Jenna and I started up the moderately steep trail with many switchbacks looking at the native plants and casually chatting about life for the first 40 or so minutes. By then I was starting to get tired. Jenna had her eye on the next vista; I had mine on my watch.
When I suggested turning around and heading back, my daughter pointed to the next lookout spot and implored, ‘just one more’. After four or five ‘just one mores’, I finally put my foot down (literally and figuratively). I told her that we’d see one final vista, then we would return.
We arrived and enjoyed a beautiful view of one side of the island. As I turned to start heading back, Jenna pointed to the next clearing. ‘Just one more.’ I was tired, sweaty, and now really annoyed. Although it was less than 100 feet away, I felt compelled to stick to my position. It was a matter of principle. I consented to letting her quickly check it out (only because I’d be able to see her every step of the way) while I held my ground.
Jenna quickly ran up, hit the top, and stopped briefly before waving her arms wildly. What was I going to do? I followed her up and immediately saw what had generated her response. She’d arrived at a very unusual spot, a point where we could see both sides of the island. An incredible panoramic view was our payoff for persistence.
In business and in life, how frequently do we stop just one vista short? How frequently do we watch the clock rather than keeping our eyes trained ahead and upward? How frequently do we set arbitrary limits and hold our ground out of principle? How frequently do we settle for ‘good’ when ‘outstanding’ is literally steps away?
On this particular hike, 100 feet of dirt stood between me and a breathtakingly memorable view.
What about you? What’s standing between you and success? What will it take for you to carry your passions and projects that final 100 feet?