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The Perseverance Quotient

By Orrin Woodward

Many of us have heard the oft repeated adage regarding the pursuit success that quips it is nothing more than getting up just one more time after you have fallen down.

The inspirational story, “Giving Up Too Soon,” illustrates the point and goes something like this:

A man meets a guru in the road. The man asks the guru, “Which way is success?”

The berobed, bearded sage speaks not but points to a place off in the distance.

The man, thrilled by the prospect of quick and easy success, rushes off in the appropriate direction. Suddenly, there comes a loud splat.

Eventually, the man limps back, tattered and stunned, assuming he must have misinterpreted the message. He repeats his question to the guru, who again points silently in the same direction.

The man obediently walks off once more. This time the splat is deafening, and when the man crawls back, he is bloody, broken, tattered, and irate.

“I asked you which way is success,” he screams at the guru. “I followed the direction you indicated. And all I got was splatted! No more of this pointing! Talk!”

Only then does the guru speak, and what he says is this: “Success IS that way. Just a little AFTER the splat.”

Although there is arguably much more to achieving success than just getting past the splat, perseverance is the stuff through which dreams are achieved.

If we are simply not willing to see it through, little else matters. Ultimately, the “stick-to-itiveness” quality is the common denominator of all success. Nothing can take its place.

Very early in life we are taught the importance of this principle without being aware of it. From learning to walk to riding a bike, even as kids we learn that failure only occurs when we stop trying and it is not easy to convince a child to quit. This is a lesson that many of us adults need to relearn.

The world is full of those who have tried to achieve something and after meeting with obstacles, rejections, and criticism, they quit.

They simply stop trying. They quietly accept failure as permanent and mediocrity as their purpose. They fade back into the crowd never to try again.

The saddest part is not that they quit what they were trying to do, but that they gave up and quit themselves. Some people never even begin.

At what point does a criticism, a difficult circumstance, a rejection or other obstacle become greater than one’s dream? Triers never win because they never finish.

The fundamental difference between those who try and those who do is their Perseverance Quotient, or PQ. Where IQ measures raw intelligence, and where EQ measures emotional maturity, PQ measures your staying power. The good news is that, although IQ is somewhat fixed, PQ can be developed and expanded in much the same way as EQ.

The doers of the world develop a high PQ. They understand that achievement lies just beyond those same critics, difficulties and obstacles that the others tripped over. The difference is the decision to get up and try again.

Should success in business be easier than learning to walk or ride a bike? Will we stumble, even fall at times? I hope so, it’s part of the learning process.

The principle is basic: the people who persevere through the process learn enough to succeed. It is PQ that separates the I ams from the I wannabes.

So what does it take to capture such a valuable yet elusive character trait? Can we develop and maximize our own level of perseverance intelligence so as to achieve that which most would never attempt, and if so, how?

Like emotional intelligence, we can cultivate the level of our PQ and in much the same way: focused effort. In fact, our emotional and perseverance intelligence feed off one another, reinforcing each other and building upon one another.

The higher our EQ, the more disciplined we are to persevere. And the more we actually do persevere, the more emotionally intelligent we become.

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Orrin Woodward is the co-founder of Team, a leadership development and training company, and the New York Times best-selling co-author of Launching a Leadership Revolution.

Named by the International Association of Business as a Top 10 Leadership Guru, he is dedicated to building leaders and entrepreneurs and promoting freedom and prosperity.

Orrin blogs regularly at Orrin Woodward. He lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida with his wife and four children.

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The Perseverance Quotient