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Perseverance the ‘magic-key’

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Buhari at Eagle Square, Abuja, during his inauguration as the fifth President of the fourth Nigerian Republic.

The bout tagged ‘Thriller in Manila’ is believed to be the greatest fight in boxing history. It is a perfect example of where doggedness on the part of the champion led him to retaining his world heavy-weight championship title belt. Joe Frazier, the challenger came on strong after round three, landing hard shots to the body and powerful left hooks to the head of Muhammad Ali. Frazier adopted the bob-and-weave defensive maneuvers, applying relentless pressure with punches with remorseless advances to wear down his opponent. Ali did some effective counter-punching, but for the most part persevered by absorbing punishment during the bout from an all-out fierce attacking Frazier. Ali absorbed blow after blow, keeping his distance and emerging periodically with flurries of combinations. Ali began to use his “rope-a-dope” innovation which paid off in the long run; a strategy in which he used the ropes for support and rest while allowing his opponent to expend energy throwing punches. In the 12th round, Frazier began to wear out and Ali scored several sharp blows that closed Frazier’s left eye and opened a cut over his right eye. With Frazier’s vision now blurred, Ali dominated the 13th and 14th rounds conducting “target practice” on Frazier’s head. The fight was stopped when Frazier’s trainer prevented him from answering the bell for the 15th and final round. Even though Frazier’s eyes were both swollen shut, he protested the decision. Ali was in his corner, winner by Technical-Knock-Out (TKO), clearly exhausted, as he slumped on his stool. Ali later claimed that this was the closest to dying he had ever been. Life success is not entirely smooth as it goes with a price-tag of endurance and perseverance.

When a child is born into this world, the child fights his way through life to survive. The child fights the unfriendly environment the world has to offer, germs and diseases. When he’s old enough to start school, he fights for attention. Then at grade school, he fights for acceptance, grades, peer pressure and the favour of teachers. Learning how to ride a bicycle is one of the first tasks in a child’s life where he naturally perseveres on his own. Sure, children fall down, they scrape their knees, but with encouragement, they continue trying until those two wobbly wheels even out. Once the magical moment of a successful bicycle ride happens, they are then able to see the results of working hard and not giving up when things get tough. This example can be applied to many other learning experiences in life as well, like learning how to read, write or count. After the struggles of college, job market, finding life partner and many more hurdles, a child has to overcome just to survive and if he is lucky, he makes it to something big. The nature of these battles varies enormously. There have been internal battles – times of intense temptation, doubt, fear and anxiety. There would have been times of deep sadness, great loss and bereavement. There would have been battles over health, sleep, finances, work and relationships. There would have been periods of great opposition and criticism.

Many geniuses have gone to their graves unaccomplished because of their inability to persist in the face of adversity. Perseverance is a quality that plays a large role in the success or failure of many pursuits; as it separates the winners from the losers in both sports and life. Most times we want the big win and when it does not happen, we give up. But if we persevere, the win we so badly want may be just around the corner. No great works can be done without persistence. Without a healthy dose of perseverance, goals can seem daunting and even unattainable at times.Persevering is always hard, but it is undeniably more difficult to force yourself to keep going when life keeps throwing the punches. Although each person is born with a certain amount of pain tolerance, this threshold can actually be changed over time. We can create a greater ability to persevere through struggles by actively attempting to increase our pain-tolerance daily. The act of increasing our personal tolerance of pain allows us to understand how to address the larger struggles we have to face in our lives.

If adults have difficulty persevering, how do we inspire our kids to stick through it when the going gets tough? Try these strategies to teach your child the power of goal-setting so he would eventually learn how to work to achieve his best.Those who achieve success have one thing in common – they have the attitude that it is better to fail than to give up and quit. When you sit down to do a piece of work that requires thinking, you may not receive inspiration at first. But when you focus on the work at hand, you will start to attract thoughts about it that you can work on. Then those thoughts will attract more thoughts and before you know it, you are in the flow. Each time you come to a stop, continue to focus and you will find yourself moving again. This is the secret of creating something from nothing. You attract all the parts of the work together simply by using the power of focus. The lack of focus is the reason for failure.

The list of well-known individuals whose early careers were filled with rejection and failure, but who simply persevered until they became successful includes Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, etc. They are all people we equate with exceptional success, they all had one thing in common: they persevered against rejection and failure.The quintessential example of perseverance was arguably Thomas Edison. Early life failures for Edison were legendary. Expelled from virtually every school he attended for being “unteachable,” Edison went on to be fired from almost every job he ever held. But Edison had one passion: inventing and always seeking the next invention. In the end, Edison was granted more patents, 1093, than any other individual. These included the light bulb, the alkaline battery, the electrical grid and the phonograph; it shows what perseverance can lead to. Perseverance is the ‘tool’ for actualising your vision.

Back home, President Buhari contested the nation’s most exalted office many times before he eventually won the 2015 election. This is the first time we saw the virtue of perseverance translate into reality in our politics. It is a victory; for patience, for perseverance, for tenacity, for grit and determination. It was his fourth attempt in a land given to short term profit – the patient dog (they say) eats the fattest bone. Perseverance the ‘magic key’ can indeed open all doors of challenges and dreams.

Oyedokun is an engineer.



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