The Exponential Value of Perseverance

If you want to be good at something and you persevere, the payoff is extraordinary.

On day one you learn something. On day two you learn something, but you still have what you learned on day one. On day three you have what you learned on day three, but you also can combine what you learned on day three with what you learned on day one and you have what you learned on day three combined with what you learned on day two.

That’s just in three days.

Now do that for three years.

And then for a decade. It’s not 3650 days of learning. It’s 3650 times all the other days that were combined together. It’s mind-boggling to think about.

And all you have to do is want to be good at something and keep learning something every day.

“Just go try it. You will learn something.”

One of the great lessons I learned from my mom is to go try new things. She used to often say, “Just go try it. You have nothing to lose. You’ll learn something, and you can use that later on.”

Such a great attitude. My work today is really the combination of many, many little moments where I tried something, learned something, and determined if I ever wanted to use it again. As you assemble bits of learning here and there, you now have more than you can assemble into a meaningful package of value to offer to other people.

The Value of Ordinary, Dedicated, Hard-Working Individuals

Right now I’m reading two books from the Civil War era. One on Ulysses Grant by Ron Chernow called Grant, and one on Abraham Lincoln by Doug Wilson called Honor’s Voice.

The thing that stands out for me so far is that they were both down-to-earth, ordinary individuals from low income families. And yet they saved the U.S. and ended slavery. One as a writer and speaker, and one as a military leader.

We need to be very careful not to ever assume that we can predict an individual’s success. Sometimes greatness happens from a person who was well-groomed and well-funded in the early years of life, but greatness also happens from people who are not refined, polished, or rich.

Choose one holiday gift for your Self

As you think about what you will get for other people this holiday season, remember the person who was with you every day on this year’s journey: your Self.

This is the person who went through the highs and lows of the year with you. This was the person who experienced the emotions with you, who made the decisions with you, and who dealt with the consequences with you.

What can you do for this person, your Self, as a way of saying thank you for everything that has happened. You’re not on this journey all alone. You have someone with you who is really important. That someone is your Self.