Could Perseverance be the Most Important Characteristic?


"Steadfastness in doing something, despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

Over the years, I’ve read, heard and seen a myriad of theories on what characteristics you need to have, in order to be “successful”.

Without delving too deep into the gazillion empirical, psychological studies that have been done, the personality qualities that are generally referenced are, in no particular order:

  • Optimism
  • Resilience
  • Creativity
  • Emotional Awareness
  • Self Confidence
  • Imagination
  • Focus
  • Passion
  • Intelligence
  • Energy
  • Curiosity
  • Talent
  • Perseverance

Obviously, if you possess all of the above in spades, then you’re likely a high achiever in whatever walk of life you’ve chosen. But, if you go through the list, you can look at a specific characteristic and ask yourself “if a person didn’t possess this trait, or had, it but to a lesser degrees, would they be as likely to be successful?”

If someone possessed all of the above traits, but was lacking in (for example) either creativity, or in imagination, or even talent, could they still be on the track to success? I believe you’d have to say “probably”. (I think you can see where I’m heading…..)

However, if you don’t have perseverance, despite someone having some or all of the other characteristics, then I think your odds of success are greatly reduced …. whether it be in business or in other life pursuits.

We’ve all known people who have been talented, intelligent, creative, passionate, etc. etc. but have never achieved what they had hoped for in life (I’m also using a very broad definition of “successful” … it doesn’t mean becoming a CEO, or a first round draft choice, but hitting a marker in your life that gives you a sense of accomplishment and success, whatever that might be). Generally, if you are easily deterred from what you want to do, give up easily, or take the path of least resistance, then you are likely to be less successful, despite whatever other characteristics you possess.

For sure, being perseverant in and of itself won’t necessarily make you a winner …. having passion, focus, imagination, self-confidence, et al. will definitely go a long way. If you lack most or all of the other traits, then having perseverance to the nth degree probably won’t be the ultimate key to success either!

And .... I'm speaking from the point of view of someone who has often taken the path of least resistance. It's taken me a long time to figure out the importance of perseverance.