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Four keys to unlock the power of persistence

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1. You’re closer than you know

During the Gold Rush, a prospector came out to California to find gold. He spent years tunneling into an El Dorado mountain convinced it held riches. Eventually, he grew discouraged and gave up.

Some years later, somebody else came along and continued where he left off. They discovered the richest vein of gold ever discovered and it was just a matter of feet from where the original prospector had given up. Sometimes you need to just persist a little longer.

2. Everything that doesn’t work just takes you a step closer

Thomas Edison never said that he failed. He said, “I discovered something that did not work.” On your way to achieving your dreams, you will have to try a lot of experiments and many will not work. But that is not a reason to be discouraged because everything you discover that doesn’t work takes you a step closer to discovering something that does.

I worked for a time as a telemarketer in college, and they told us not to become discouraged when some people say no to us. In fact, they had it down to a science that a certain number of calls would be “no’s” before you would get a “yes.” The key was to look at each no as taking you a step closer to a yes.

3. Somebody else did it. Why not you?

Unless you’re trying to do something completely new, chances are somebody has accomplished what you’re trying to do. And even if you are trying to do something brand new, most inventions still incorporate a large amount of prior advancements.

So if somebody else did it, why not you? My commute used to take me past a bunch of million-dollar houses perched up high on a hill. When I drove past those houses, I thought to myself, “the people in those houses figured out how to make it so it’s not impossible. They’re not better than me so what’s stopping me?”

4. Be demanding with yourself

Sometimes you need to be like a personal trainer to yourself. Would you want a personal trainer that just tells you to take it easy and only do exercises that make you feel good? No, you need somebody to push you. And if you don’t have somebody else to push you, you can push yourself. When asked about his film success in a recent interview, Tom Cruise said, “I put pressure on myself. I’m very demanding of myself.”

Eric Eisenhammer is a political strategist and technology entrepreneur in northern California.

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