RGS Guildford courtyard with students

Reflection: Perseverance

In my opinion, perseverance is one of, if not the most, important trait that a person can have.  The ability to put in continued effort to do or achieve something, even in the face of difficulty and adversity, is arguably the key to success in life.

One of the greatest inhibitors to reaching this success is an innate fear of failure present in a lot of us, something that I can personally relate to.  We tell ourselves far too often that we can’t do something, or it’s too difficult, whereas in fact sometimes it’s just because we are choosing not to put in the effort, or we’re scared of what the outcome might be.  Perseverance is what helps us to surpass these.  It is an individual deciding that they will put in the time and effort to find success, and even if they fail, they will try again, learning from previous mistakes, and you never know, they then might actually succeed.  No matter how difficult the obstacle might seem, perseverance means that we are at least going to try.

However, perseverance isn’t just about continuing on blindly, when it’s obviously not working.  It’s not about being stubborn or refusing to change course, but it’s about adapting to new challenges, and finding different ways forward, even when it isn’t clear.  It requires having the strength to keep going when you face difficulty, and being able to pick yourself up after a setback and keep going towards your goal.

There are countless examples of athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians, activists and other famous people showing perseverance throughout their lives to achieve their goals, even though they had previously experienced failure.  In sport, one of the most famous examples is Michael Jordan, who encountered numerous setbacks in his career, starting from being cut from his school basketball team, before he turned into the greatest basketball player in history.  Or you can look at Nelson Mandela, who persevered through 27 years in prison, while still staying focused on his aim to change the world.

Now although these examples are fairly extreme, perseverance can be still incredibly valuable to all of us, and is something we can all use in our everyday lives.  Whether you have another go at that Maths homework yourself, instead of just asking your friend for the answer, or you practise that extra bit harder to get moved up a rugby team, perseverance will help you improve and get closer to your goals.  And even if you’re not successful, the important part is that you tried in the first place.

I’d like to leave with you a quote from the inventor Thomas Edison which I think is testament to just how crucial perseverance is, and how setbacks can often be just a stepping stone to success.  He famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times, I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”  But he never gave up, and eventually was successful.  I encourage you all to do the same.

James Dicker
Senior Prefect