“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”

–William Feather

This has been the mantra for my career. Starting my first company at the age of 26, the first few years of struggle, selling possessions, and fear certainly dogged me. That is until it didn’t. That’s how it happens: the struggle makes you strong and durable with humility for the good times to come. Ten years later, that company was acquired by Monster.com / TMPWorldwide, a Fortune 100 company at the time.

I have known many smart people who failed, but I know very few who are persistent and fail or who feel like failures. It seems of all the tools to have in your belt that persistency is the key to empowerment and success.


Persistence is stronger than failure

Abraham Lincoln is often acknowledged as one of America’s greatest presidents. But he was also dogged with years of struggle:

  • Struggled in business: 1831
  • Defeated for state legislature: 1832
  • Struggled in business again: 1833
  • Elected to state legislature: 1834
  • Sweetheart died: 1835
  • Suffered from a mental breakdown: 1836
  • Defeated for Speaker: 1838
  • Defeated for Congressional nomination: 1843
  • Elected to Congress: 1846
  • Defeated for Senate: 1855
  • Lost the Vice President nomination :1856
  • Defeated for Senate: 1858
  • Elected President of the United States: 1860

The focus here is not his defeats though. It’s that he persisted in the face of personal and professional struggles and emerged victorious. 

Calvin Coolidge’s words ring true here as well:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Building your lasting success

The idea is not to be deterred by the distractions around you. Build a strategy and a framework. Develop 1-, 3-, and 5-year plans. Take your strategy and build tactical realities around it. Consider each structure, and then test those structures with your plans so that they can be commoditized and expanded exponentially.

It is an hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month reality. One must have the tenacity and discipline to make it work combined with faith and belief.


The model Mr. Lincoln gave us with his persistence is one we can remember in the face of our own setbacks. And what is most wondrous of all is that persistence is a quality that we ourselves control. You and only you can decide whether you will stay the course. Be persistent, be consistent, and you will achieve beyond your expectations.

As Rev. Gerald Johnson once said, “Persistency surprises by its results.”

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