"Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself." — Khalid
I’ve traveled the Massachusetts Turnpike nearly every day for almost two decades, and most of that time was without an EZ Pass, so I got to meet a lot of tollbooth collectors. There was this one gentleman in particular who worked the booths at Exit 5. Whenever I’d go through his lane, after taking my ticket, he’d say with a smile: “Stay on that horse!” I admit that the first several times he said this to me I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what he meant, but I appreciated his enthusiasm and always hoped I’d get his booth when passing that way again.
It wasn’t until 2008, while employed as the house magician at The Grapevine Grille in Belchertown, MA, that I started to understand what he meant. On one particular evening a customer I was performing for took an interest in my work and asked me about my aspirations and future plans. He encouraged me with this line:
“One of life’s greatest tragedies is pulling the reins of your horse just before it leaps. Stay on that horse. You never know when your horse is going to leap, so don’t stop too soon!”
It was encouragement that I greatly needed. At that time in my life I was going through some personal struggles that had left me very unmotivated to say the least, and this gentleman’s words were greatly appreciated. It’s been a long and winding road since these words of encouragement, and today I can say with authority that it’s true: every time my horse has leapt it was been a surprise. Well, perhaps I should say that it wasn’t a total surprise, because I always did the work needed to cause the leap. But what I mean is that the exact timeline of when the leap occurs is never known beforehand yet it always comes, so long as I take consistent action to see it through. What’s more, this proverbial horse hasn’t always leapt in exactly the direction I had in mind, but through the power of persistence I continue to reach new heights beyond what I at first even imagined!
The Magic Word Persistence reminds us to “stay on our horses,” to keep fighting the good fight, so that we may always be found moving forward. As the Danish-American photographer Jacob Riis puts it:
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stone cutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack in it…yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
We can learn much from success, such as what we’re doing well; however we can also learn much from our failures, such as what needs improvement. Think of a time in your life when you persevered in the face of difficulty to achieve something of significance. What helped you see it through? Think also of a time in your life when you got off your horse too soon and gave up. How was the deciding factor? What do you now know about yourself to be better prepared moving forward? What can you do today to practice persistence?
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.