This month Devon Harris former member of the Jamaica bobsled team and motivational speaker tells us why persistence is very important in life.
Advice & Help

Persistence

When things go wrong as they sometimes will
When the road you’re traveling seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit

Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit
It’s when things go wrong that you mustn’t quit

I was in the ninth grade when I first heard those words. My friend Wally Small recited them in front of the class and they had an immediate impact on me. That was the year I started running track and during practice, as I struggled through the last two hundred meters of my intervals, under the bright afternoon sun, dust swirling from the occasional light breeze traversing the field, my muscles aching from the lactic acid build up, my lungs bursting as I gasped for breath; I would repeat to myself the only words I remembered from that poem….”Give it your hardest hit but never quit.” If we ever hope to realize our dreams and truly reap the fruits of our labor, we must develop the ability to endure in the face of the challenges and adversity that life will throw our way.

Persistence does not recognize failure

Lack of persistence is one of the biggest reasons for failure. People simply give up and, in the history of the world, no one has ever been defeated until defeat was accepted as reality. As Winston Churchill said in a speech at his Alma Mater, “Never give in; never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” Unfortunately, most people give in even before they get started. They will come up with a great idea but right away think of all the reasons why it wouldn’t work – and quit.

Whatever your field of endeavor, you will always face obstacles. Things simply won’t go as well as planned or expected. But if you don’t quit, you may achieve your goals. Back in 1988 when our team got started we were sure that corporate sponsors would be knocking down the door to back this hot new idea. Very quickly, however, it became apparent that that wasn’t going to happen. So we began selling T-shirts. You may remember them. They declared us “The hottest thing on ice!!” There were many nights that I pulled up beside a couple on the dance floor, whipping out a shirt and completing the transaction before the song was over.

Even more recently, as I prepared to compete in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan, I was faced with the old age problem of funding. It was January 1997 and I can still hear my coach’s voice saying “Devon, if you don’t get sponsorship by June, you will only be chasing pipe dreams and you should quit. Well, instead of quitting I set up training camp in Evanston, Wyoming and started to coach myself. I delivered pizza at night after about eight hours of training during the day. I was experiencing major setbacks but I had found a way to keep the dream alive. June came and there was no sponsorship. July, August, September, October, November, and December came, and there was still no sponsorship. It wasn’t until January, one month before the Olympics, that the Utah based long distance company, Tel America came on board and provided the financial support that I needed. It all happened because I didn’t quit.

Persistence denotes belief in yourself

Persistence is a very good measure of your belief in yourself. It speaks volumes of how confident you are in your ability to succeed. Only a person who is confident in their ability to succeed will persist. The more you persist, the more your confidence and your belief in yourself intensifies. That in turn increases your desire and motivation, and drives you to persist even more – which reinforces your self-esteem and belief in yourself. It is an upward spiral.

“Click here to share an experience where you persisted and succeeded despite the odds”

Persistence builds on itself

Persistence is the ability to endure in the face of adversity. Every single act of persistence builds and cultivates success habits which become ingrained and ultimately guarantee your success. Each act of persistence strengthens you and increases your ability to persist even more; until you become the most persistent, determined person you know. You will simply become unstoppable. As they say, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in not giving up.”

Keep On Pushing!

About the Author
Devon Harris is a member of the original “Cool Runnings” Jamaica Bobsled Team which competed in 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. He has also competed in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville , France and the 1988 Games in Nagano, Japan. He is currently a Motivational Keynote Speaker, Workshop Facilitator and Author. Visit his website at http://devonharrislive.com

About the author

Devon Harris

Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.