My dad had a way of looking life straight in the eye, no matter what it threw his way. He didn’t turn away; he faced every challenge with determination. He didn’t retreat; he pressed forward. He didn’t back down; he gave life his all. And he did so, even when he didn’t feel he had any more to give.
He persevered. I watched him try again and again to accomplish tasks, no matter how impossible they seemed. And this made me admire him more than I ever thought possible. It didn’t matter what the task was and it didn’t matter if he accomplished it or not. He was and will forever remain victorious in my mind for having the courage to give it his all.
This experience leads me to a question: How does our society characterize perseverance and determination? All you have to do is Google quotations about these words and you’ll find that they are typically used in reference to achieving success and accomplishing specific goals. They’re about what you have to do in order to get something you want…
But my invitation is for us is to recognize the value of perseverance and determination in a way that is not contingent on the outcome. When we do this, we are able to appreciate the process and admire the courage it requires.
It takes guts to work towards something that feels hard. Running away from a challenge that presents itself often appears to be the easier, more comfortable path to travel. And for good reason – lots of times, it is! The only problem is that taking steps in the opposite direction to avoid the problem only gives it power and that power makes it grow. And no one wants that! Ick! But the point is, even though it is not easy, I believe there is extraordinary value to be found in facing what challenges us.
There’s a popular quotation by Robert H. Schuller that goes, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” This question was never really my thing and I was surprised to discover that it didn’t resonate with Brene Brown, either! What I love even more is the meaningful question she created to use in its place, “What is worth doing even if I fail?”
The tough stuff in life is worth doing and we can only discover what is possible by harnessing our determination to work hard and persevere. But it’s not about whether or not we fail, it’s about whether or not we’re willing to take the leap and give the things that matter everything we’ve got, just like my dad.