The Power of Persistence


Growing Bolder celebrates the power of persistence because life is filled with endless challenges. Persistence is critical to not only bouncing back from these challenges but turning them into successes.

Well-known examples of the power of persistence are endless. Thomas Edison tried 10,000 times to create the light bulb before succeeding. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work,” he said.  Henry Ford went bankrupt three times before he managed to design his first automobile. Ludwig van Beethoven composed many of his most celebrated works after he lost his hearing at the age of 30. 

Persistence is critical to success in any endeavor and an important key to successful aging. Nowhere is this more evident than in the lives of active nonagenarians and centenarians – those in their 90s and 100s.   

Growing Bolder has interviewed hundreds of these rock stars of aging® and without exception, persistence is responsible for maintaining an enviable quality of life. Let’s face it, without quality of life, longevity quickly loses its appeal. Living to 100 is only an attractive goal if we can get there in a physical, mental, and emotional state that allows us to enjoy it. Persistence is what gets us there. 

The universal centenarian experience is one of continual loss. The sheer weight of this loss is too great for many to overcome. Active centenarians are the exceptions. They persist. They mourn and move on. They let go, adapt, accommodate, and recapture a joy of life.

Thomas Perls, director of the New England Centenarian Study, puts it this way: “If you actually look forward to getting older, your chances of doing so are much better than if you dread aging.”   

One of my favorite quotes about persistence is from former U.S. president, Calvin Coolidge who said, “Nothing in the 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.” 

So, press on!  Accept that there will be obstacles and setbacks. Prepare for them by improving your lifestyle and then persist beyond them when they occur. The one trait shared by all active centenarians is the power of persistence.  

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