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Doing Consistently What Others Do Occasionally

January 30, 2023

For some time now, I have been thinking about the attribute of willpower. Other words for willpower might be determination, consistency, or perseverance. I admire folks with willpower. When the times get tough, the determined are not deterred or detoured. Instead, they have what I call 'begin-ergy.' They have spirit, grit, and mental toughness. They may not reach their ultimate dream or goal, but it will not be because of a lack of effort.

Author Elmer Towns says that some people succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined. Thomas Edison said that everything comes to those who hustle while they wait. The snail reached the ark because it was determined. There is a world of difference between 'not quite' and 'never quit.' Generally, you can't keep the fainthearted up, and you can't keep the determined down. Determined people consistently do what others occasionally do. 

Character First defines determination as purposing to accomplish the right goals at the right time, regardless of the opposition. I like that concept, the right goals at the right time. Determination is pure when truth and virtue, not self-aggrandizement, are vied for. I would like to give you an example of what I'm saying here from research by the Character First staff. It's called How One Man's Determination Brought Literacy to a Whole People.

"Sequoyah served under General Andrew Jackson in the war of 1812 in the United States. After the war, he began work on the Cherokee writing system, for which he is now famous. He started creating symbols for whole words and eventually arrived at 85 symbols representing sounds. Unfortunately, his neighbors didn't understand him, and his wife reportedly destroyed his work at one point. But he persevered, and in 1821, Sequoyah and his daughter, Ah-yoka, unveiled his syllabify and opened the door to literacy for thousands of his people.

Sequoyah endured and succeeded because he couldn't do anything else. He possessed perseverance. Willpower is choosing not to give up until what you set out to do is accomplished. Willpower and focus are not letting your mind, emotions, other distractions, or people deter us from achieving the right goals at the right time regardless of the opposition."

The Bible has many stories of people who had determination. The women who had been hemorrhaging for years never quit seeking a solution. When Jesus came along, she pushed through the crowd, broke every rule of protocol for that time, and touched the hem of Jesus' garment. Jesus stopped and turned around to see who the determined woman was. He said to the woman, "You're healed." Lesson: Her healing came from Jesus, but her determination put her in the position for healing to happen.

What is the lesson here? Winners are ex-losers who just got determined. So, at first, if you don't succeed, try not to look too astonished. Anything worthwhile may take a while. Determination is what happens between the start and the finish.

The unique aspect of determination is people can use determination for both good or evil, for construction or destruction. Determined people can undermine a whole culture, country, or community. Hitler was determined. Churchill and the Allies were more persistent. It takes committed, consistent people to ensure good triumphs over evil. Consider the postage stamp. Its usefulness consists of sticking to one thing until it gets there.

There's another unique aspect of perseverance. Sydney Harris captures that aspect cheekily. "Perseverance is the most overrated of traits if it is unaccompanied by talent; beating your head against a wall is more likely to produce a concussion in the head than a hole in the wall." Enough said.     

You become what you focus on. Winners focus on winning; losers focus on winners. Don't spend your time and energy worrying about others. Don't take your eyes off the prize. That's 'di-vision' or should I say 'die-vision.' Tom Landry enlightens us about how to win the Super Bowl. "My job is to get men to do what they don't want to do to achieve something they have always wanted to achieve." Whenever you see a successful business, someone makes a courageous decision and finishes what they started. Focus, self-control, and perseverance are the qualities that distinguish the fittest (mentally and physically) to survive.

The Scriptures give us sage advice about perseverance and consistency for the right things. "Summing it all up, my friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into His most excellent harmonies." Philippians 4:8-9.

Finally, my good friend, Chris Estrada of Destiny Center International Church in Phoenix, enlightens us about consistently doing what other people occasionally do this way. "Consistency is a skill many people lack but can be learned through repetition. The more consistent you are with doing the right thing and not cutting a corner, the better results you'll receive when attempting to do anything. Let's go!" I like that. 

It would make my day if this article encouraged you to keep on keeping on, for something great and sound you are pursuing. Remember, a great oak is only a little nut that held its ground.

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com