On The Importance of Persistence
Originally published on Notion Africa
“They say good things come to those who wait, I say the best things come to those who push and don’t stop pushing.”
Persistence is a big deal, don’t let anyone tell you different. I remember that growing up, no matter how badly I wanted something I couldn’t bring myself to ask for it, because I dreaded the feeling I got at being told no. Who can relate to this? The feeling of rejection. The way your heart falls from within its cage into the pit of your oesophagus, and your intestines just shrivel up and scrunch themselves up. Okay, grim picture. Sorry. But really, getting a no is a very unpleasant thing to happen, and persistence wasn’t my thing, but I’ve had to learn by force.
Which is why being an entrepreneur is no mean feat, because your intestines will shrivel too many times than you can count. Your heart will become accustomed to falling out of its cage as well. But really, it boils down to what your dream is worth to you. Would you go back to the well-paying job that you hate so much, because you got a no? Or will you go back to your think tank, answer the questions that made you get the no, fine-tune the great idea so that the big picture becomes clearer, then return to where you got that no? Would you do it enough times till you got a yes?
My sister’s friend told us a story once, about how she finished her Youth Corps and couldn’t find a job. One day, she went to an organization that she’d been eyeing, and told the receptionist that she wanted to meet with the MD, and no she didn’t have an appointment. As is expected with these snotty front desk people, they told her he was unavailable. But madam agreed to wait. So armed with a book, she sat at the reception until it was time to go home. Sure enough, Mr. MD came out, and there she approached him and told him that she wanted to work in his company. He told her to come back in the morning, which was the beginning of plenty uneventful journeys to that office. Long story short, she got an internship. Today, she’s in management.
Her story reminds me of Thomas Edison, the light bulb inventor. He had to do it 1, 000 times to finally get it right! One thousand! If that’s not persistence I don’t know what is. It’s not just Edison. I’m sure even you have persistence stories of your own, or have been told some stories of others.
Dear Entrepreneur/Student/Elder/Friend, as you try to change the world, you will be told several nos. You will be asked questions that will require you to keep going back to the drawing board. But aluta continua. Don’t stop trying, don’t stop pushing. Think of every rejection you get as another area of your idea that needs tweaking in order to come out perfect.
Personally, every time I dream up something, I go to the people around me, the pessimists and the naysayers. I visit them right after I visit the optimists who will tell me what a great idea it is. But I want the naysayers to punch holes in my idea. Help me see what about it is not so great, so that I can make it great. These people will challenge you, task your creativity, and help you refine your product or service. So in setting up a team, please remember to add a couple naysayers to the mix. And never stop just because you got a no. Let Edison be the standard. He got a thousand no’s yet he didn’t stop. Maybe you should think about quitting after a thousand two hundred no’s. Until that time, aluta continua.