In this post we’re going to briefly explore, persistence. What is it? How do we create and grow it in our children? How do we nurture it into something formidable? By the end of this article you’re going to know just how to do these things.
Let’ had back to the story about Rachel and Rebecca. If you missed the introduction, you can access it here and read about them.
“What day is it?” asks Jess.
“Friday,” says Rachel. “Not that it matters. Friday night in prison is like a Monday night and or Saturday afternoon. It’s all the same.”
It’s quiet within their cell.
“Well, you wanna play a game to pass the time?”
“I don’t play games anymore,” says Rachel.
“Everybody plays games!” says Jess. “What do you mean, you don’t play?”
“I stopped playing games a long time ago.”
“What happened?” asks Jess.
Rachel thinks back to her childhood. The memory is still clear in her mind. It’s a clear summer day. She’s with Rebecca. They have found a couple of pieces of discarded chalk, outside one of the local school’s windows. They’ve searched all afternoon for the cleanest piece of sidewalk and they’ve now found it. It’s outside the Cash and Discount convenience store. It’s a busy place and there are many people who walk past this stretch of sidewalk. But it’s perfect for the game they want to play.
“Becks, why here?” asks Rachel.
“Because it’s the only place we can actually draw the hopscotch lines. Every other sidewalk is cracked or filled with glass. Anywhere else in the neighbourhood isn’t safe, we might be trampled by a couple of drunks. This spot is perfect.”
Rachel isn’t convinced. “But look at all these people. They’re going to walk right over us.” Rachel steps out the way, avoiding a shopper leaving the store carrying plastic bags.
“Maybe,” says Rebecca, squatting down and drawing the outlines. “But we’re not hurting anyone by doing this, are we?”
Rachel yields and helps Rebecca draw the lines. Shoppers walk by as if the girls are invisible. They have to redraw the lines over and over, every few minutes.
“This is crazy!” says Rachel, dusting her hands. She’s had enough now. “We’re spending more time drawing lines than we are playing hopscotch. I’ve had enough of this. Let’s get out of here.”
“Raych, it’ll be okay. Trust me. People are starting to walk around us. See? They’re not stepping right on the lines anymore. We need to draw it less and less.”
Rachel wants to hear none of this. She’s tired of drawing lines. She’s tired of people shuffling their feet over their hopscotch lines. “I’m going home. Enough of this.”
“Raych, wait! I have an idea! I know how we can make this fun!”
Rachel walks away.
“Games are stupid!” she says, as she crosses the street.
“Games are stupid,” she says to Jess, back in her prison cell. She rolls over and goes to sleep.
Back at Jumpstart, Rebecca is having a meeting with her design team. They’re pitching a new design for a projection the company is working on.
“I don’t like,” says Rebecca. “It’s boring.”
“Well, what do you want us to do about it?”
“Make it fun.”
Tina and a few of the other art directors scoff at this idea. “It’s not meant to be fun. It’s meant to be functional.”
“Everything can be fun. Make it fun and we’ll have people using it every day.”
While her team look confused, Rebecca tells them a story from her childhood.
“Did I ever tell you about the time we played hopscotch, when I was a kid?”
Rebecca is 10 years old again. She’s carrying three pieces of chalk in her left hand. Rachel has the rest. They’ve been looking all afternoon for a place to sketch out their hopscotch track. Finally, they find the perfect place. It’s outside a busy convenience store. She can’t remember the name anymore. That part of her memory is fuzzy. But the sidewalk outside the place is perfect. It’s clean and it’s light and long enough to make a long hopscotch track.
But there’s a problem. The store is busy. The door jingles every time someone leaves. And every time the girls hear that bell they know that someone is going to walk right over their chalk lines. Most times people erase the lines without even looking down. They need to redraw the lines every few minutes.
Rebecca thinks about leaving. She wonders if they could find another place to play the game.
“Let’s get out of here,” says Rachel.
“Look, it’s not a perfect place to play the game, but it’s the safest place we can play,” says Rebecca.
Rebecca feels a hint of irritation about these people. Don’t they have any regard for her? As soon as she notices the irritation start, she stops and stands up.
“This isn’t going to work,” she says.
“Exactly,” says Rachel. “Let’s go.”
“No, I mean, the way we’re doing this isn’t going to work. We want to play hopscotch, right? And we want to play here. At least I do. We have chalk and we have a sidewalk. Those are the things we can do something about. We can’t do anything about the people that walk out of the store.”
“You mean these rude people!” Rachel shouts at a customer that leaves the store and walks right over the chalk, erasing it with every shuffle.
“Don’t you see, Raych,” says Rebecca, excited now. She grabs Rachel’s arm. “We can turn this into the game. Hopscotch is great, but what’s better than that? How about, Hopscotch with a time limit!” She runs to the place where the lines have been erased. She whips out the chalk and lays down fresh lines over the old ones. “We turn this into the game. How many times can we do the track, back and forward, before someone comes out of the store and erases the chalk!”
Rebecca skips across the track and then turns and comes down the hopscotch line again. She manages to get through it 3 times before a family of four come out of the store and destroy the hopscotch lines. She laughs, reaches into her pocket for the chalk and redraws the lines.
“This is a waste of time,” says Rachel. “I’m not going to do this. I’ll see you later.”
“Ah come on, Raych. This is fun! Try it out.” But Rachel is gone.
Rebecca watches her go. She looks at the store’s exit door as a heavyset man from their neighbourhood leaves with 3 bags dragging on the ground. He practically erases even the deepest chalk lines of their hopscotch track. Rebecca laughs.
“Challenge accepted,” she says. Rebecca spends the rest of the afternoon laughing as she draws the lines, skips, redraws lines and skips. Over and over again. By the time 5pm arrives, she’s exhausted. But she’s happy. She’s created a new recorded. 15 times criss-crossing the hopscotch track before having to redraw the lines. 15 times!
She remembers this as she returns from her memory and steps into her boardroom. “There’s always a way to make it fun, people. Functional is great. Fun is forever. I know you can make it happen.”
Persistence is a difficult quality to master. However, it’s one of the few things that will take you wherever you want to go. In the film The Shawshank Redemption Tim Robbins’ character, Andy Dufresne decides to ask the state for new books for the prison library.
He writes a letter a week. Each week he writes and they ignore him. Eventually, months later, they send boxes and boxes of new books along with a letter. “Thank you, Mr Dufresne. Now please, stop writing to us!”
Persistence is the ability to follow one course until you’re successful.
There are many ways to build persistence in your children. These 5 steps are a simplified version that you can test out and adapt. Find a way that works for you.
It all starts by getting your children to see where their persistence will take them. You need their buy-in. There has to be something that they’re willing to work towards.
After you’ve found something that they want to pursue, the next step is to create a plan of daily effort to get there. Persistence is grown through small, deliberate, daily efforts. Small is key here. Something that will take a few minutes. I’ve written more about this on my article on Compounding and Momentum.
Doing something every day is hard work. We don’t often see the results of what we’re doing today until a lot of time and effort has passed. When most people don’t see results right away, they tend to quit. Children are no different. Help them continue the journey by celebrating their small victories each day. This can be as simple as acknowledging their efforts to be persistent. Get excited about it. Remind them that they’re learning something more important than they realise. This is one of the only ways to keep your children in the game and actively working towards something.
If there’s a way that you can measure their progress, do it. When we see ourselves progressing towards something and we can measure how far we have come, we see the real magic that comes with persistence.
When something is boring, there’s not much value in doing it. When you help your children create a fun way to achieve their goals and build their persistence, you teach them to see their challenges as an opportunity.
I’ve written about persistence first because it’s critical to success. It’s not the only quality you children will need, but with persistence, they can have just about anything they want. Show me a successful person and I’ll show you a long history of conscious persistence that led them to where they are today.
Until next time,
© The Brilliance Quotient 2018