If any worthwhile dream requires a long term vision and delayed gratification, it stands to reason that perseverance will be necessary, and in droves. Somehow, Rascals are able to hang on long after others are shaken off. And sometimes, after they themselves have experienced significant setbacks.
In 1835, Thomas Carlyle had finally completed his book French Revolution. It was to be first in a series of three volumes, a massive and ambitious work of scholarship. When tackling an immense project, as many a writer is familiar, the first part is often the most difficult. Overcoming inertia can be intimidating and exhausting. This was certainly true for Carlyle in this case. That first volume had been a struggle. For over two years Carlyle had researched, organized, collected, studied, and finally written it. He had lost sleep, his nerves were frazzled, and his finances were in dismal shape. The book had been a wrestling match, but would surely soon pay off.
Carlyle was good friends with John Stuart Mill, the famous philosopher and fellow writer. When Mill offered to read the manuscript and provide his thoughts, Carlyle consented with pleasure. One can only imagine the scene when, days later, Mill inquired as to whether Carlyle had retained a back-up copy. When Carlyle answered that he had not, Mill explained that his housekeeper had inadvertently thrown the book into the fire with some old newspapers. It was entirely destroyed. Even the research Carlyle had done was gone, as he had thrown it all away upon completion of the manuscript.
The next morning he wrote in his journal: “I will not quit the game while the faculty is given me to try playing. Oh, that I had faith! Oh, that I had! Then were there nothing too hard or heavy for me. Cry silently, to thy inmost heart to God for it. Surely He will give it thee. At all events, it is as if my invisible schoolmaster had torn my copybook when I showed it, and said, ‘No, boy! Thou must write it better.’ What can I, sorrowing, do but obey - obey and think it the best?”
With this determination, Carlyle sat at his desk and began to write once again. He was tired, stressed, and in financial straights, but he wrote, and wrote, and wrote. For two years he valiantly forced his way up that same old hill of inertia he had already once climbed. And there, atop that hill, Carlyle planted the flag of perseverance for all writers and strivers to see forevermore. He not only re-wrote his initial volume, but finished volumes II and III as well. And to this day, French Revolution is considered one of the master works on the period. Finding the strength to build something of magnificence is incredible enough the first time. But to summon the character to do it again is nearly beyond belief.
The ability to persevere through challenges and obstacles is a matter of strength, will, and focus. A Rascal keeps his or her eye upon the prize, hangs on tight, and refuses to let go. No matter what turbulence hits, Rascals are tough enough to stay the course.
One trick I have used throughout the years is to encourage myself by stating repeatedly in the face of some challenge, “Doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, I’m still hitting my goal!” Remember, the pain of regret is usually larger than the pain of hanging in there, so avoid regret by growing your mental toughness. Realize that no great thing was ever accomplished without overcoming struggle. In fact, every success story has the same progression: “Dream, struggle, victory.” It is important to notice the order of those words. First a dream. Then a struggle. It must be a natural law that struggle always follows the advent of a real dream. This is because it is in the striving after worthwhile goals and dreams that we become better, and who we become is at least as important as what we achieve. Therefore, in the very nature of success lies a secret to greatness. But finally, notice that victory always follows struggle. Without a test we don’t get a testimony. No pain, no gain. No guts, no glory. And, a popular one with Rascals everywhere: no guts, no story.
When Rascals feel as if they can’t hang on any longer, they remember the reason they hung on so long in the first place.
(Posted by Kristen Seidl, on behalf of Chris Brady)