On Perseverance

With well over a hundred coffee, lunch and phone meetings over the last two months, I’m feeling like Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta might have felt in 2011. More on that in a minute. 

A few projects and contracts have fallen into place, and I’m realizing perseverance is going to be a common theme in my work going forward, more so than ever. 

I coach my son’s baseball team and we spend a week each on key character traits. It just so happens that perseverance is a key trait in the best ballplayers. In what other endeavor can you fail 7 out of 10 times and be an all-star? Those that bounce back and keep going are the ones that make it to the big leagues. 

One of our players wrote this for a school assignment earlier this year:

Credit: Max #55

Credit: Max #55

Back to Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, who is not having the greatest season right now in 2017, but over the last couple of season’s he’s been one of the best pitchers in major league baseball. 

Arrieta had a mostly unsuccessful tenure with the Orioles before being traded to the Cubs in 2013. He didn’t stand out during his seven seasons in Baltimore (2007-2013). He didn’t get much of a shot at the majors. Few baseball fans even knew that he was traded to the Cubs. And now he pitched in the 2016 World Series.

He never gave up. He persevered. 

How did he do it? A lot of his success was just showing up, continuing the training and everything it takes to be an exceptional athlete. I was reminded about the importance of just showing up in an article about passion projects earlier this week. 

"The easiest way to start is to forget all the best practices, all the make-pretend to-dos and just do the thing, the actual activity, the crucial part of what makes a writer a writer, a singer a singer, and a stock analyst a stock analyst in the first place.” – Niklas Goeke

As someone who’s started and re-started side projects over the years, yes, this is the old me in a quote. I'm thankful to be reminded that the best writers write one page, one day at a time. The best mountain climbers climb one step at a time. 

Neither simple plodding action, on its own, is awe-inspiring. The admiration comes when seeing the incredible amount of work done over a week of climbing one step at a time, or a year of writing one day at a time, or a year of simple actions at work...one at a time. 


Josh Carlton is the Principal of 500THz, a boutique marketing strategy and research firm that delights in using creativity to solve marketing problems. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This post also appears on LinkedIn

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