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 definiteness of purpose leads to persistence.

Habit

Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experience 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. 

How to Develop Persistence

There are four simple steps which 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: 

  1. A definite purpose backed by burning desire for its fulfillment. 
  2. A definite plan, expressed in continuous action. 
  3. A mind closed tightly against all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends and acquaintances. 
  4. A friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose. 

Symptoms of Lack of Persistence

  1. Failure to recognize and to clearly define exactly what one wants.
  2. Procrastination, with or without cause. (Usually backed up with a formidable array of alibis and excuses).
  3. Lack of interest in acquiring specialized knowledge.
  4. Indecision, the habit of “passing the buck” on all occasions, instead of facing issues squarely. (Also backed by alibis).
  5. The habit of relying upon alibis instead of creating definite plans for the solution of problems.
  6. Self-satisfaction. There is but little remedy for this affliction, and no hope for those who suffer from it.
  7. Indifference, usually reflected in one’s readiness to compromise on all occasions, rather than meet opposition and fight it.
  8. The habit of blaming others for one’s mistakes, and accepting unfavorable circumstances as being unavoidable.
  9. WEAKNESS OF DESIRE, due to neglect in the choice of MOTIVES that impel action.
  10. Willingness, even eagerness, to quit at the first sign of defeat. (Based upon one or more of the 6 basic fears).
  11. Lack of ORGANIZED PLANS, placed in writing where they may be analyzed.
  12. The habit of neglecting to move on ideas, or to grasp opportunity when it presents itself.
  13. WISHING instead of WILLING.
  14. The habit of compromising with POVERTY instead of aiming at riches. General absence of ambition to be, to do, and to own.
  15. Searching for all the short-cuts to riches, trying to GET without GIVING a fair equivalent, usually reflected in the habit of gambling, endeavoring to drive “sharp” bargains.
  16. 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.

Let us examine some of the symptoms of the Fear of Criticism. The majority of people permit relatives, friends, and the public at large to so influence them that they cannot live their own lives, because they fear criticism.

Huge numbers of people make mistakes in marriage, stand by the bargain, and go through life miserable and unhappy, because they fear criticism which may follow if they correct the mistake. (Anyone who has submitted to this form of fear knows the irreparable damage it does, by destroying ambition, self-reliance, and the desire to achieve).

Millions of people neglect to acquire belated educations, after having left school, because they fear criticism. Countless numbers of men and women, both young and old, permit relatives to wreck their lives in the name of DUTY, because they fear criticism. (Duty does not require any person to submit to the destruction of his personal ambitions and the right to live his own life in his own way).

People refuse to take chances in business, because they fear the criticism which 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 twenty 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 STILL-BORN, 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 the destruction of most ideas which never reach the PLANNING and ACTION stage.

Napoleon Hill’s 13 Laws of Success (Think and Grow Rich)

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