Persistence as a Skill

January 3, 2011

As I was working on my creative project on Sunday, I began to realize something as I was banging my head against the wall. I reached a point where I was getting nowhere. I couldn’t figure out why the piece of code I was working with didn’t work the way I expected. Every fiber of my being was telling me to just stop. Stop, take a break, it isn’t worth it, deal with it later. That’s when it hit me.

Persistence and perseverance are skills to train.

When I say it and read it, I think it probably makes a ton of sense. But I think we’re forced to deal with a ton of situations throughout the day where “I’ll just stop for a few minutes” sounds like a great way to do deal with your problem. But some of the biggest triumphs and breakthroughs come from pushing that giant boulder back up the hill.

I love the story of Sisyphus pushing the bolder up the hill. My immediate reaction when I started getting annoyed with the task in front of me was to actually start adding distractions. I can recognize this now that I’m done. I turned on the TV, I started poking through email every few seconds like somehow that would help. But I remembered one of the main points of my Analog Conversion Manifesto was to simply add more focus. So I did.

I shut off my desktop computer. I shut off email and nearly every application except the two I was using. I put some music on I was very familiar with and dug back in. A few moments later, BAM, breakthrough. I got what I needed and was totally in the zone.

So the next time you’re totally befuddled by a piece of code, a task at work, or a handy-man project at home, try to focus your efforts further by removing even more¬†distractions.¬†It won’t always help, but its one step in the right direction.