In praise of persistence

(image credit: Truly Happy Life)

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.   The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

CALVIN COOLIDGE

 

Willwork is a national leader in exhibition services and event project management.  In 2017, we are celebrating 30 years in business.

Harriet Tubman. persistent, courageous (image credit: artist Horatio Seymour Squyer

A quality that we, as a company, esteem and admire highly in people, and in organizations, is that of persistence.    Of staying after something, of facing and surmounting obstacles, of falling down and getting up — of not quitting.

Fundamental to the success of Willwork is that we have been, and are, persistent.

Especially in the early days of Willwork, as we sought to establish ourselves, to sell ourselves — to grow and move beyond being solely a company that provided exhibit installation & dismantle services in the Boston area — we heard a lot of “nos” and knew a lot of rejection and being put off.

And this was all understandable.  Sure, we were doing a great job in Boston.  We were building our reservoir of positive testimonials and good will.  But there were many companies out there against which we competed which had been around for a lot longer than we had, which were far more established, and which did very good work.

If we weren’t persistent, if we did not pursue a game plan of smart and strategic growth, we wouldn’t have nearly approached the success and achievement we have known.

It is worthwhile, it is valuable … and inspiring … to take a look at examples of extraordinary and exceptional persistence.   To that end, today, in this space, we are doing just that.

HARRIET TUBMAN

We need to start out with a hall of famer in persistence – and also in courage and dignity.

The hall of famer?  That would be Harriet Tubman — the “Moses of Her People.”

Born into slavery in Maryland, probably in the year 1822, Harriet Tubman became one of the most successful “conductors” on the Underground Railroad, the secret route of roads and paths and safe houses that slaves, sometimes with the help of abolitionists, used to escape from slave states and make their way to freedom in states in the North, and Canada.

While an enslaved field hand, Tubman endured horrific abuse, including repeated beatings.  In 1849, she escaped to Philadelphia, and to freedom, leaving behind her husband and family.  But Harriet Tubman was not content to secure freedom for herself – no, no, no – for she felt and observed a calling, one to which she responded … time after time … and one that would … time after time … place her life at risk.

As explained at History.com, “Despite a bounty on her head, she returned to the South at least 19 times to lead her family and hundreds of other slaves to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Tubman also served as a scout, spy and nurse during the Civil War.”

It seems that Harriet Tubman is now the frontrunner emerging in discussions in Washington, D.C., as to who will be selected as the first woman to become the “face” on a paper bill of American currency.  Proposed, with strong backing, is that Tubman replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, with Jackson represented on the back of the bill.

Please click here to be taken to the full biography of Harriet Tubman at History.com.

THOMAS ALVA EDISON

Thomas Alva Edison ranks at the top of the list of the most successful and brilliant inventors, and successful industrialists, in history.  He is also the poster child for persistence.

Thomas Alva Edison (image credit: Louis Bachrach, Bachrach Studios; restored by Michel Vuijlsteke)

Nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park” – with Menlo Park, NJ the site of Edison’s home and research lab – Edison’s toil and intelligence, and way of looking at the world, resulted in 1,093 U.S. patents alone, not including those he held other countries.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on Edison in which is described his enduring influence:

“More significant than the number of Edison’s patents was the widespread impact of his inventions: electric light, power utilities, sound recording, and motion pictures all established major new industries worldwide. Edison’s inventions contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.   His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator.   Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world.”

This influence did not come easy – not at all.  Edison failed over and over.  Then, again, maybe not.

Edison famously reflected:  “I have not failed.  I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Thomas Alva Edison, also noted, just as famously:  “Genius is one percent inspiration, and 99 percent perspiration.”

J.K. ROWLING

J.K. Rowling (image credit: Scholastic, Barnes & Noble)

J.K. Rowling is an all-star in persistence.  Consider the following entry on Rowling which is found at the website Being Encouraged.

“J.K. Rowling- The famous Harry Potter author became a single-mother after enduring a failed marriage and also losing her mother. She was diagnosed with clinical depression and reportedly contemplated suicide. Before finishing the first book of the Harry Potter series, she was barely surviving on welfare. After she finished the book, she submitted to twelve different publishing houses but was rejected by all of them. It wasn’t until a year later when a small London-based publishing company gave her a chance that she became the author we’ve come to revere.”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in 1997.  It would be the first in a series of six Harry Potter books that would all become mega worldwide bestsellers.”

The Wikipedia entry on the series provides the following data on the success of the Hatter Potter series:

“As of May 2013, the books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide, making them the best-selling book series in history, and have been translated into seventy-three languages.   The last four books consecutively set records as the fastest-selling books in history, with the final installment selling roughly eleven million copies in the United States within twenty-four hours of its release. “

Of course, beyond the books, Harry Potter has become a powerhouse entertainment franchise, encompassing films, games, theme parks, and the stage.

J.K. Rowling continues to write, and continues to create brilliant and bestselling art.

KURT WARNER

Following redshirting the 1993 season, Kurt Warner was a backup quarterback for the next three seasons at the University of Northern Iowa, an NCAA 1-AA school located in Cedar Falls.   He got his chance to start as a senior, and he made good – leading the Panthers to an 8-3 record and a playoff berth.  He was named the Gateway Offensive Conference Player of the Year.

Undrafted, he had a tryout with the Green Bay Packers, and was cut.   Warner returned to Cedar Falls where he stocked shelves in a grocery store for $5.50 an hour, and was an assistant coach with the Northern Iowa football team.

He didn’t give up on his dream.

Sports Illustrated cover featuring Kurt Warner in 2000 Super Bowl (image credit: Sports Illustrated)

Warner received an opportunity to play in the Arena Football League, and he lit it up, putting up huge numbers, and becoming one of the league’s premier players.   His play caught the attention of the St. Louis Rams, which signed him to a contract for the 1997 season.  St. Louis held his rights when he spent the 1998 season in NFL Europe where he led the league in passing.

Warner was the third-string quarterback for the Rams for the 1998 season.  During the 1999 preseason, Warner was second on the depth chart to starter Trent Green.  When Green tore his ACL in preseason, Warner became the Rams starter.

The 1999-2000 campaign saw Kurt Warner and the Rams conduct a clinic, setting a slew of offensive records, and finishing the season with Super Bowl victory, beating the Tennessee Titans, 23-16, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  Warner was named MVP of the game.

Over the next nine season, Warner continued as one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks.  He started in two more Super Bowls, with both those starts for teams that lost the game narrowly.

Warner’s holds many NFL passing records.  During his NFL career, he was named All Pro four times.

Kurt Warner was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 5, 2017.

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Wiillwork hopes you have enjoyed this treatise on, and ode to, persistence.

Willwork will always be a company that faithfully practices this virtue

And we recognize, beyond the importance of persistence in being successful in the exhibitions services and event project management industry, its importance in achieving and accomplishing in all areas of life.

For we believe, as President Coolidge so accurately and correctly reflected, that, “The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”