On Endurance


Today, I want to take a moment to discuss endurance. This might be a touch odd as a topic related to thankfulness, but hear me out. Many of the ‘GREAT’ results , the heroic stories usually start in endurance. Edison invented the lightbulb… But how many hundreds or even thousands of failures did he endure and persevere through to get there? What about George Washington? He didn’t lead the fledgling States to victory over Britain in a climactic battle. Instead he mostly endured cold winters and evaded his enemy, striking only during moments of advantage. This element of perseverance appears consistently in other works and cultures as well. Even Sun Tzu lauds the merits of patiently out-waiting your enemy. But critical in all these, is that the ‘waiting’ was never idle. That the endurance was not stationary. They kept their discipline, consistently doing what they knew they had to. It is said that the secret to becoming an ‘Overnight Success’ is to work hard, with no notoriety, sleepless nights, failure and loss in good measure. But to get back up each day and keep going for 10 years or more. So while our popular stories might be those of ‘meteoric rise’, the real history of our lives should be one of enduring excellence in practice. Excellence is not an occasional act, but a consistent habit.

Building on this, let us explore 2 prerequisites for endurance: Faith and Hope.

Hope, as a verb (like to hope), can be taken as:

  1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible.
  2. To have confidence; trust.
  3. To desire and consider possible: synonym: expect.

But critical to hope is an insight into a possible future. That is an object to hope for. One which is more desirable than the present. Edison didn’t just keep trudging through failed experiments for the fun of it. He had in mind a brighter world ahead ( literally 😝). And if you examine Ford’s Autobiography, you’ll find that he perfected his motor car, NOT to just become a millionaire. He wanted to put mechanical power in the hands of common men, especially farmers. And in fact, one of his proudest accomplishments was the Ford tractors. Powerful for their weight, they helped save Britain during the war, by turning portions of the English countryside into a Breadbasket. To endure, there must be something to endure for and these men found theirs.

The second element is Faith, which is the ‘assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition or statement for which there is not complete evidence or belief in general’. Everyone who endures believes in the possibility of their hope. That the world can become that, and that by their efforts, their endurance… it will. It is faith that bridges the gap between hope for the future and the actions taken today. The Hoped-for future isn’t reached by standing still.

So what does all this practically mean? What do we do with all these lovely ideas? I would start by cultivating your hope. What brighter future do you want to see? In what way do you want to improve the world?

Write it down. Make it detailed. Capture those ideas which “put a fire in your belly”.

We ought to capture that which sparks our excitement for that future. And then, find a way to keep that vision in front of you. It can be hard to pick yourself back up again and again if all you’re staring at is the dirt between your feet. Review that detailed, invigorating vision of the future you seek. Bolster your endurance on those days when the path ahead seems bleak. For my part, I have a handful of practices for this. Among them is a collage of images I keep to remind me of the future I want to build. I review it every week, if not more frequently. For Improving, our mission is: “To Change the Perception of the IT Professional”. What will yours be?