Why Perseverance Pays Off

Sep 11, 2013

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything.  Sometime ago, I explained that I was in the middle of my dissertation, and I’m happy to say, I am now finished.  It was a long and wondrous journey.  So, as of July 9th, I now have a Doctoral Degree in Human and Organizational Systems.   I’ve never seen my husband happier.  Clearly, he cooked more dinners, made more trips to the market, and did more laundry than should be required of any spouse.

Beyond his enthusiasm and joy, however, I’ve asked myself why this newfound accomplishment even matters.  Will a PhD, after all,  really change my life that much when all is said and done?

Earlier today, I ran into one of more former professors.   She reminded me that a PhD wouldn’t change my life all that much.  You’ll see, she commented, that you’ve already been doing it all–everything you’ve wanted to do–you’ve already been doing it.  I wholeheartedly agree with my friend.  I have been doing it.   However, the perseverance required to achieve this level of accomplishment has some additional payoffs.  Here are a few things I’ve learned about the value of perseverance along the way:

1.   Greater Focus:  There was a level of stick-to-it-ness that was required throughout this process.  Early in the game it became very clear to me that I could not waiver from my desire to meet this milestone.  I had to stay focused, no matter the challenges or obstacles along the way.   The payoff for this level of perseverance is that I actually achieved more than I thought possible in a shorter time than I had expected.   I’m now wired for focus in a way that I hadn’t experienced prior to the dissertation process.

2.  More Confidence:  Something magical happens when you stay focused on achieving  a much desired goal.  For the last six months, I have spent most days analyzing and writing from 8-10 hours a day.   Having undergone this kind of rigorous schedule, I now have an increased confidence in my capacity to do just about anything.

3.  Diverse Perspectives:  At Fielding Graduate University, we like to talk about the privilege of being a scholar-practitioner.  The first year I was at the university, I didn’t fully understand the power of those words.  Four years later, however, I can now see how many different ways there are to interpret people, situations, and information.   I think I have learned to be more open and accepting of ideas outside my own, and I am hopeful that this newfound awareness will be of benefit to my clients, colleagues, and friends.  Perseverance offers one the gift of humility, the time to learn how much you don’t yet know and how much there is still to learn.

4.  Celebration and Joy:  Finally, perseverance is the pathway to meaningful results.  It doesn’t offer any short cuts.  Let’s face it, if it were easy, anyone could do it.  This applies to any goal that requires one to hunker down and just get the job done.  Perseverance is like wearing combat boots to the finish line.  You may find yourself ragged and worn, but your muscles are stronger for having made the trek.   When you cross that line, there is great cause for celebration and joy.   I’m in the place of freedom now, and it is truly delightful.

In The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch shares a wonderful perspective on what I think perseverance means:

“The brick walls are there for  reason.  The brick walls are not there to keep us out.  The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.  Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.  They’re there to stop the other people.”

Perseverance is how you get over the wall.

Q:  What’s the brick wall you’re dying to climb?  What level of perseverance is required?

Comment here.