Napoleon Hill is widely quoted to have stated the above saying to show that as carbon is essential for the existence of steel, so is persistence for the character of man.
In fact this saying tells a lot about man’s success and failure. The same idea above was repeated in other words by Victor Hugo saying that perseverance is the secret of all triumphs.
In fact, most studies of human history show us that life has never been easy for man; it is made up of sets of success and failure. Where human history is dotted with success, it has been mainly because of man’s perseverance and persistence.
Where we find failure there is also some traces of giving up, because man is made in a ‘shock proof’ way allowing him or her to resist so many things.
What the two sayings above teach us is that for our survival we need some virtues which may help us to resist different negative life conditions, resolute and unyielding in following our course of action through the many risks on the way.
In our everyday language, we talk of different virtues as a necessity for a meaningful life. What we mean very often is simply a good character trait.
But the word ‘virtue’ means much more than that. It takes its etymological origin from the Latin word ‘virtus’ which means ‘manliness’ and it was used with reference to such warlike traits as courage, perseverance, persistence, and resilience.
Of these traits mentioned above, the virtue of perseverance which is close to persistence is the foundation of all other virtues and it stands for the activities maintained in spite of different sorts of difficulties.
While perseverance is normally used in favorable sense, persistence, on the other hand, may be used in either a favorable or an unfavorable sense to imply the unremitting which may be sometimes annoying.
There is a similar trait which is resilience; a dynamic process by which individuals exhibit positive behavioral adaptation when they encounter significant threats or trauma.
Given the importance of the above virtues, it is true that a person armed with them, stands a better chance of managing his or her life with less difficulty.
Such a person will not give up very easily, he or she will not be discouraged, and will not comply in internalizing his or her marginalization. He or she is likely to fight his or her way forward.
And such people do not buy in such false beliefs of who they are or whose they are.
Such people cannot pass unnoticed. We have a biblical example of Bartimaeus, who was both blind and a beggar.
(Mk. 10: 46-52) He was unfortunate, despised but knew his rights too well to allow any body to silence him when he had a point to make.
When he heard of the journey of Jesus and his disciples from Jericho, he decided to sit by the roadside and waited for that unique chance of meeting Jesus. He knew that Jesus would restore his sight.
By chance, Jesus passed by with a large crowd. When he heard him, he began shouting out in a way that the others judged unbecoming, saying: ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’
And he repeated this so many times. This irritated many and they shouted him down ordering him to be quiet immediately. But Bartimaeus was not the type to be silenced like that. He was convinced of what he was doing; the more he was shouted down, the louder he made his point to Jesus.
Since he could not give up, Jesus heard his clear voice cutting through the murmuring of the crowd and ordered people to call him. Some of those who were shouting him down then told him in a way very characteristic of men: ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.
The Bible tells us that when Jesus called him, the man showed the kind of determination which impressed Jesus: the blind man threw off his cloak and sprang up and came directly to Jesus.
When Jesus put the following question to Bartimaeus: ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man answered as if he had been making a rehearsal of what he had to say: ‘My teacher let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately the man regained his sight and followed Jesus on the way.” [Mk. 10:46- 52]
The character of Bartimaeus is clearly marked with a high degree of both perseverance and persistence that most of us would envy.
Being blind and a beggar, he would have been a kind of person who accepts humiliation for the norm. The poor man would be eaten up by the dangerous complex of inferiority.
Being alone against a great crowd, Bartimaeus would have given up. But in all he remained in control of his situation, due to his perseverance, persistence and resilience. These are the virtues that we all need in life.