This I Believe

Eugene - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on March 27, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: work

I believe in the power of persistence.

As a baby boomer born shortly after World War II, I heard much from my parents, teachers and mentors about setting goals, sticking to tasks, overcoming challenges, hanging on to dreams, and never giving up. These were very much “depression-era” values. The people Tom Brokaw dubbed “the greatest generation” embraced them and tried to instill them in their children.

Coming of age in the mid-1960’s, however, I found myself in a world quite different than the one my parents described from their early adult experience. I was offered choices and opportunities that were unprecedented in the lives of earlier generations of Americans. The necessity to stick with a goal, to persevere against all odds and to overcome obstacles was greatly diminished. If you failed at one thing, you could try another and another. There were few consequences of concern. A failed attempt was soon forgotten. You simply put the past behind you. Tomorrow became the “first day of the rest of your life”. My faith in the beliefs of my parents eroded and, at least for a time, I drifted without clear goals, direction, or lasting commitment to much of anything. In short, I lost sight of the importance of persistence in my life.

By the early 1980’s, faced with an ever-growing stack of lost relationships, unsatisfying career experiences, and the realities of single parenting, I was forced to re-assess my values, my goals and my life’s direction. That’s when it hit me. My childhood role models knew the secret. It was simple, really. Pick a goal and persevere. Be persistent.

After re-kindling this belief from my childhood and applying it to my future direction and daily pursuits, I began to see its power in my own life. With this new-found sense of commitment, long-range perspective, and perseverance, I found that relationships blossomed, financial security developed, and career goals were realized. Not overnight, but over time.

I now realize that the habit of persistence, which served me well, must be passed on to the next generation, to my grandchildren and to other young people whose lives I touch. My message is this: do not squander the gifts and talents with which you are blessed. Press them to the limits in everything you do in the future— school, career, family, community service—everything. And, above all, set goals and be persistent!

To the parents and grandparents of today’s youth I say: instill the habit of persistence, pass on the legacy of the “greatest generation”, teach young people to have dreams, set goals and persevere in the face of challenge. Pass on the power of persistence to the next GREAT generation. There are few gifts you and I can offer that will do more to enrich their lives, benefit society, and improve our world.

This I believe!