Persistence Is the Key

The people who become the leaders of their lives rather than going with the flow and accepting the scraps that life tosses them understand the power of persistence.

Earl Nightingale, American radio speaker and author says, “Sometimes it appears that there is a hidden guide someplace whose duty it is to test men and women through all sorts of discouraging experiences. Those who pick themselves up and keep trying after getting knocked down arrive. It’s an uncanny thing, but it works. And this hidden guide lets no one enjoy great achievement without passing the persistence test, it seems. And those who can’t take it simply don’t make the grade.” (From Earl Nightingale’s book “Transformational Living”)

Nightingale continues, “And those who can take it are bountifully rewarded for their persistence. They receive as their compensation whatever goal they’re pursuing. And that’s not all, because they receive something infinitely more important than material compensation, although they get that. But they get the knowledge that every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage. There are exceptions to this rule. A few people know from experience the soundness of persistence. They’re the ones who have not accepted defeat as being anything more than temporary. They’re the ones whose desires are so persistently applied that defeat has finally changed into victory.”

W. Clement Stone tells the story of Tom, “who was born without half of a right foot and only a stub of a right arm. As a boy, he wanted to engage in sports as the other boys did. He had a burning desire to play football. Because of this desire, his parents had an artificial foot made for him. It was made of wood. The wooden foot was encased in a special stubby football shoe. Hour after hour, day after day, he would practice kicking the football with his wooden foot. He would try, and keep on trying, to make field goals from great distances. He became so proficient that he was hired by the New Orleans Saints.”

Nightingale says, “what would you say a person’s chances of playing professional football were if he were born without half of a right foot and a withered arm?”

66,910 football fans could be heard screaming “when Tom Dempsey with his crippled leg, kicked the longest field goal ever kicked in a professional football game, within the last two seconds of the game, to give the Saints a winning score of nineteen to seventeen over the Detroit Lions.”

Detroit Coach Joseph Schmidt said, “We were beaten by a miracle.”

The truth of the matter was “they were beaten by perseverance.”

Tom Dempsey was persistent and willing to do the hard work to reach his goal. He fell in love with the process of being the best kicker he could be. Even though he had different abilities than his teammates; he was determined, with a positive attitude, always looking forward!

How strong is your burning desire to reach your goal? If you created a 3 step process, what would that look like? What is your first step?

Gayle Benson, Saints owner says, “Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations. He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family.”

Tom Dempsey continued to be an inspiration to others until his death in 2020, and his legacy lives on.

All of us have felt the pang of regret when we’ve given up on a difficult task, knowing that we have somehow short-changed our true potential. Conversely, most of us have felt the joy of a hard-earned victory when the future seemed bleak.

Earl Nightingale, read “about the great Knute Rockne of Notre Dame who believed and applied, the rewards of persistence”

“He had a blood clot in one leg, and his doctors told him if that blood clot broke free, it could kill him if it landed in his heart, brain, or lungs. But the Notre Dame team was playing far from home that day, and he insisted on being taken to the game on a stretcher. So, they got him to where the game was to be played. And they took him down to the dressing room where his football players were getting ready for the game. And the perspiration was running down his face and he was in terrible pain and he propped himself up on his elbows with a tremendous effort and said, “This team you’re playing today beat us last year.”

“I want you to get out there and win.” He then said, “The team that won’t be beat, can’t be beat.”

Rockne “then fell back on his stretcher, out of breath and suffering terribly, and the team went out and won the game, and they never lost another game as long as Knute Rockne was alive, because when they saw the type of courage that he could develop, how persistently he fought to win even though he was flat on his back, it made giants out of men.”

Nightingale: “And people that stand on the sidelines of life see the overwhelmingly large number who go down in defeat, never to rise again. They see the few who take the punishment of defeat as an urge to greater effort. And these fortunately never learn to accept life’s reverse gear, but what we don’t see, what most of us never suspected existed, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement.”

“Now if we speak of this power at all, we call it persistence and let it go at that. One thing we all know, if one does not possess persistence, one cannot achieve any noteworthy success in any calling.”

To reach your goal or dream ask yourself these three questions:

1) Do you have a burning desire to reach your goal or dream?

2) What is your step by step process for reaching your goal or dream?

3) Are you willing to be persistent and do the work like Tom Dempsey?

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