Monday, September 17, 2012

A virtue called perseverance

Lately, I've been thinking; trying to tie together the various conversations I've had with my friends over all these years; attempting to correlate them with my own learning by seeking examples of events in my life where I've failed and others, where I've succeeded. The theme of this post is then to provide you with a justification, unsolicited as it may be, of why in my opinion perseverance is a virtue. Before I narrate my story, I'd like you to stop and think for a moment about things that you've really loved doing, about how much you've persevered with those things and how being good at those has added to your confidence and made you happier, however diminutive that happiness may have been.

If you and I think alike you'd agree that whatever you're good at, you've become good only after persevering with it relentlessly, consciously or subliminally. Although some of you may beg to differ saying that there's always an innate talent behind everything one is good at, but I believe that talent only provides a good first step, the proverbial steppingstone to success. It's only perseverance that wins you marathons, though talent may make you win the 100m sprint race. Nobody becomes great by mere talent. Great men have persevered immensely to reach such heights that if we've seen further, we've seen further by standing on the shoulders of these very giants. Talent gives you intuition, but rigor gives you proof; if talent gives you the edge, rigor puts you beyond reach. A little talent with a lot of hard-work is the only concoction of sublime success.

I'm sure you're enticed to ask me, why did I bother writing about this when this is all common knowledge? Turns out, this knowledge is as common as common sense itself. The reality is that this knowledge is now hidden deep beneath the shards of short cuts to success. We have been educated in a country, where the criteria of admissions to the top colleges is based on solving a 200 questions in a span of 3-6 hours. You are expected to pay as much attention to an unfamiliar problem as you would to a beggar 10 Km from your house. Solving familiar problems is the key to success, and by repeatedly training yourself to ace these exams, you lose the ability to tackle any unfamiliar challenge in your life. And life is anything but a series of very familiar problems. Anything you wish to be good at starts off as an unfamiliar problem, the choice is yours whether you want to leave it, or see to it that you become good at it, by persevering with that problem.

Over the years my friends have expressed their total lack of talent for various things in life, be it academics or learning a musical instrument, and I've always asked them only one question; whether they've persevered for long enough to become good at those things. The answer has always been, that they couldn't continue because they felt they lacked the requisite talent. And I've smiled inwardly and almost sardonically because I believe that one can be good at anything as long as one has the desire to be good at it. If you have a goal and you wish to continue no matter what, then nobody can stop you from reaching your goal. If you haven't a goal, then that's a different matter altogether.

I feel that learning to program and learning the guitar were both very hard for me initially. Of course, there are the moments when I was exhausted and I felt the need to just give up, but all it took to keep going was that vision; the vision that got me started in the first place. I believe that if you can keep that vision ensconced within your heart, then any challenge that appears as a elephant at first is just an ant masquerading as one. This is not the occasion to brag about myself, though it may appear so. My intent solely, was to put this seed of thought in your mind that whenever you are confronted with doubt, you just have to close your eyes and conjure up that vision that you've locked up deep within. It will make your challenges seem small and your dream well within your reach! With that, I'd like to end this post wishing you success in your endeavors. Your dreams are within your reach, if you've decided not to quit. Thanks for your time.


  1. Thanks for such an inspirational post. I might give a second thought about learning guitar ;) :D
    Nice post, very well written!

  2. Thanks Tapan, hope you do :)

  3. Very true amit. Thanks for writing this . Its really a motivational blog

  4. Rightly said. You should read these two books if you already haven't - Bounce (Matthew Syed) and Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell). They talk about the myth of talent and power of practice.

  5. I liked the post. Words of wisdom are so pervasive, u can find inspiration at the back of a truck, or when you lift your face while peeing against a wall.

    But they don't stick! Perhaps their omnipresence is their nemesis. I would love for you to figure out a way of writing your posts that would last with your readers. That would go home with them from work and keep them awake on their beds.
    Put a Doordarshan newsreader on the left end of a scale and Sunny Deol's speech in Border at the right end. You get the picture right? You are right in the middle. A little more emotion, passion, controversy (:P) will take your writing to new heights. You are not writing a product review, then why should you abstain from using big words and pictures and cartoons and emoticons?

  6. I was one of the people who argued that innate talent is required. Until I was given a few subjects to teach which I was fairly talentless at. I persevered for my students. And I became pretty good at things I used to be terrible at! Most f us just born impatient , the human soul needs instant gratification.

  7. Good to know that! If we're all born impatient, then that's terrible evolution, isn't it?

  8. Very well written.. i did think about many things i started off to learn but left at very beginning stage. I will try my best to get back to them finish. Thanks for the post.