Priceless skill of perseverance

Everyone has setbacks that cause them to want to throw up their hands and yell, “I quit.” Perhaps it was after being told they weren’t smart, fast, talented or creative enough to succeed in their chosen path. There is a long list of well-known people who experienced failure including Mozart, Dr. Seuss, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Steve Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Arianna Huffington, Emma Stone, Elvis Presley and Stephen King. Did you know:

  • Disney’s newspaper editor told him that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
  • Seuss’ first book To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was rejected by 27 publishers.
  • Jordan failed to make the varsity team his sophomore year in high school. He went home and cried in his room.
  • Presley was told he wouldn’t succeed as a musician and should go back to driving a truck.
  • Winfrey was fired from her first TV job as an anchor in Baltimore.
  • Spielberg was rejected three times by the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television.
  • Thomas Edison’s teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything, and Albert Einstein didn’t learn to speak fluently until he was 9 years old.

What makes some people prevail despite setbacks? Perseverance. It’s the ability to continue trying and working toward a goal. College can be a challenging time when a student may experience setbacks, whether it’s failing a test, facing uncertainty about choosing a major or feeling homesick. Student Success and Advising Director Niki Weight said WOU offers students personalized support that helps students persevere through rough patches. Weight said there are many advocates who are eager to help students. “The message I want to give students is people care about them,” she said. “We are here for you, and we are in this together.” Weight said WOU’s resources help students learn how to navigate setbacks and build the skills to be successful. “It is OK for students to seek assistance and support when they need it,” Weight said. “I think this is huge for students persevering in college.” Weight wants students to understand that experiencing a setback doesn’t mean they are a failure. “We want to help students develop a growth mindset and that failing is an opportunity to learn,” she said. Here are some tips for learning the skill of perseverance:

  1. Struggle is normal. Struggle builds self-confidence, independence and perseverance. When students do succeed after struggling, they learn valuable character traits including tenacity and focus.
  2. Count on your friendships. Our friends truly are there for us, sometimes, we just forget to ask for help. Invite friends to study, go for a walk, grab coffee or do a fun activity. Our friends often provide us with the encouragement we need to continue working hard and striving to meet our goals.
  3. Ask for help. There are plenty of people at WOU eager to assist you. Resources include Service Learning and Career Development, Student Success and Advising and tutoring services.
  4. Hard work. “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up,” Edison once said. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Talent and intelligence are developed through effort and hard work.
  5. Perseverance pays off. Perseverance will teach you about your own strengths and capabilities.
  6. Celebrate your failures. “If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
  7. Self-talk. Think about how you talk to yourself. You will believe what you will tell yourself. If you think something is too hard, or if you are not good at something, you can expect these statements to be correct. Instead of saying “I’m not good at this,” think “This is hard, but if I keep trying I will eventually catch up.” Oprah Winfrey said, “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”
  8. Effort is more important than intelligence. Abilities grow through hard work.
  9. It’s not supposed to be easy. Some students fear failure so they give up when a subject or activities aren’t easy. Many students have an adjustment period between high school and college. Failure is part of the learning process that builds intelligence and stamina.
  10. Use your analytical skills. When something goes wrong, figure out what you could have done differently and learn from your mistakes.
  11. Stick to it. If you continue to work hard to pursue your goals, ask for help and accept every failure as a learning experience, success is bound to be the result of this effort. Michael Jordan said, “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  12. Priceless lessons. Each time you weather a challenge, it will make you strong and able to deal with whatever life brings your way.

    For additional information, visit: Service Learning and Career Development Student Success and Advising Tutoring services

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