What does it take?


“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal.

My strength lies solely in my tenacity”.

Louis Pasteur

Some time ago, I created a signature keynote presentation called, “Tougher than the Times”. With the challenges business, governments, and individuals are facing today, it is no surprise this keynote is requested over and over again. People still ask, “What do my current challenges require of me? What does it mean to be “tougher than the times”?

I hate to give “canned” answers, so my answers are usually varied in an effort to tailor my response to meet the person I am speaking to and the specific challenges they are facing. However, there are a few words that come up no matter who I am talking to. One of these is Persistence.

Persistence is the precursor to success. It is the fruit of determination. It has the power to outlast pain, forget failures, refuse the easy way out and does not lose sight of the goal.

I love the story of a little girl named “Skeeter”. Born in the Great Depression and raised as one of 22 children, she developed polio at a young age. As the disease twisted her left foot and leg, she endured twice weekly (extremely painful) treatments and could only walk with a heavy and uncomfortable leg brace. But she was determined to one day walk on her own… and she was persistent.

Because she would not be beaten… because she refused to give up… because she faithfully did what she could… because her “fire” would not die…. This sickly little girl with the hated leg brace grew up to be the first American woman to win three Olympic gold medals and receive the title, “The fastest woman in the world.” Her name is Wilma “Skeeter” Rudolph and she was a champion.

A word of caution: Skeeter did not “persist” in her previous condition. She did not “accept” her condition as a permanent limitation.   You see, there is little value in persistence if you are not striving toward a worthy goal. 

To be tougher than the times, keep the goal (crystal clear and fully articulated) in front of you… “Tougher than the Times” persistence does not concern itself with the current conditions. It does not concern itself with how much time passes before the goal is realized. Persistence – in its most profitable form – is concerned only with the goal itself.


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