"Positivity, confidence, and persistence are key in life, so never give up on yourself." — Khalid
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I remember clearly my first failure as a magician. I was probably about eight years old or so and the not only did the trick not work, but the audience saw exactly how the trick was done. I instinctively ran away in tears.
Nevertheless, I persisted, and my first part time job in high school was performing magic shows in the local community. An early client who had used my services a number of times sent a note after a performance and suggested that I should charge less for my services because I wasn't good enough.
Another client sent a note saying that the show was great but that I should, quote, "lay off the donuts and fries" because the show would be far more pleasing if I was thinner.
Another said that the show was childish and more appropriate for younger audiences, while another said my material was too adult and more appropriate for older audiences. Both wanted a refund.
Several years and hundreds of performances later, I was booked to work at a nightclub performing magic in between the music acts. It was clear after the first set that no one was interested in the magic...because I was booed off the stage! But I was still expected to finish the night and had to step back up in front of that audience three more times. Despite the circumstances, I persisted.
Many years and thousands of performances later, I transitioned my career to become a positivity coach and workshop facilitator, and early on I'd receive feedback like "I spent many years dreading in-service days because of group activities and speakers, and this one wasn't very good."
It's uncomfortable sharing these stories, and it took some thought to decide whether I should, but I do so because it highlights a valuable positivity practice that can mean the difference between stagnation and growth: Focused Persistence.
A single blow from a stone has the power to knock out even the toughest of people, yet take that same stone and subject it to a steady and persistent stream of water over millions of years and it will erode into nothing but sediment.
Along with a steady dose of patience, this is an encouraging reminder that even the toughest of challenges can be overcome with focused and persistent effort.
It can be all too easy to give up when we seemingly have nothing to show for our efforts—or worse yet, criticism from the very people we're aiming to serve. But when we have a passion to be of service, giving up simply isn't an option.
And so, despite the numerous failures and disappointments over the years, I didn't lose heart, and instead used these experiences as kindle for professional growth. At every step, instead of letting failure stop me, I took the stones thrown my way and poured persistent effort into filling in the knowledge, skills, resources, and support gap.
What do you do to in the face of adversity to stay focused and persist?
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Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.