Perseverance is the key to success. Or is It?

Perseverance is the key to success. Or is It?

An interesting article in the Guardian today: Falling short: seven writers reflect on failure.

In the final paragraph, Lionel Shriver says: “We celebrate success, hope for the best, and admire determination. So we shy from acknowledging that there’s a point at which it’s pretty clear that whatever it is we’re so determined to achieve is not going to happen. In which case, why keep beating our heads against the wall? There’s something to be said for giving up. Hell, maybe there’s such a thing as “giving up well”, too.”

I have long thought that there’s a lot to be said for giving up.

Yes, there are many examples of where persistence has paid off. The motivational speakers’ favourite, Colonel Sanders, apparently took his recipe for fried chicken to 1,009 restaurants before he found someone interested enough to give his idea a try. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s manuscript was rejected 140 times before Chicken Soup for the Soul was finally published and the series went on to sell 125 million copies. It’s said that Edison tried 3,000 different theories and tested 6,000 types of fibre before finding the right element for the long-lasting light bulb. And so on.

But, of course, we only hear about the people who eventually did succeed. I wonder how many have dedicated their lives to promoting an idea that has never come to fruition? And, how many of them might have found at least some degree of success if they’d eventually said ‘enough is enough’ and allowed themselves to move on and explore other possibilities?

Successful people tend to be persistent but that doesn’t make persistence a guarantee of success. I think a more important skill is knowing when to give up.

Click here to read the full article.