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The greatest obstacle to success is often self-doubt. It happens to all of us. But just because you face challenges doesn’t mean you should stop following your dreams and take the easy way out.
One skill that is sure to pay off and anyone can develop is perseverance, which is defined as, “persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”
Perseverance is a Major Key to Success
It requires patience, determination, and regular practice to develop this skill. Having perseverance teaches you how to focus on solutions instead of problems and focus on the big picture instead of abandoning a situation or responsibility half way through.
Success doesn't come easily at any stage in life, and there are many hurdles that need to be cleared before achieving a goal. Being persistent is the key that separates being successful from being disappointed.
Do you give up too soon? All successful people have failed at some point– and some have failed many times. Part of success is learning from your failed attempts and persisting, realizing that failure is part of achieving.
In this article, we will look at 11 short stories about perseverance and never giving up. The messages offered in these stories can help you stay motivated and continue to work hard to achieve your goals.
Let’s get started.
As a child, Jack’s father was a horse trainer who frequently had to move from ranch to ranch training horses. Because of this, the boy‘s school career was constantly interrupted.
During his senior year, a teacher asked him to write about what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without hesitating, Jack wrote a paper about his goal to own a horse ranch. He was very meticulous in his writing and included drawings of buildings, stables, and even a detailed house plan.
Two days later his teacher returned his paper with an “F” written on the top page.
Jack asked his teacher why he received an F, to which the teacher responded: “This is an unrealistic dream for a boy like you, who has no money, no resources, and who comes from a traveling family. There is no chance you will reach this goal.”
The teacher then offered Jack a chance to rewrite the paper with a more realistic attitude.
After several days, Jack brought the paper back to his teacher without any changes. He said, “Keep the F and I will keep my dream.”
Now Jack owns a 200-acre horse ranch and a 4,000-square-foot house, where he displays his school paper framed over the fireplace.
One day a little girl came home from school upset because she had lost her number one spot on her chess team. Knowing how important chess was to his daughter, her father asked her what was wrong.
The little girl explained that she had worked so hard to get this spot on the team, but now an older boy at a different school had taken her place. Hearing this, her father had an idea to tell her two stories.
First, he explained there was once a young boy at a beautiful beach scooping sand with a plastic shovel. While his other friends were playing, the little boy spent his day creating a sandcastle that included a moat, a popsicle stick bridge, and even walls.
After working on his dream sandcastle all day, a large wave approached and destroyed his hard work. But instead of getting mad, the boy decided to try to make another sandcastle, but this time, make it stronger.
Then there was a businessman who lived and worked in a big and noisy city. He was always busy shuffling his papers into stacks, speaking on the phone, delegating tasks, and typing away on the computer. He was successful and regularly gained large profits from his business.
Just like the little boy, the businessman spent his life building his kingdom. Both were resourceful in formulating plans, diligent with their work, and determined in their tasks.
The boy always knew there was a chance that the tide could come. He continuously planned how to do things better and prepare for the wave. The boy knew that the tide was out of his control and he couldn’t do anything about it, but he could control how he reacted to the situation.
On the other hand, the businessman spent his time fighting the tides and waves for many years. When work became too overwhelming, the man felt defeated and his business crumbled, just like the sandcastle being washed away.
After telling the story of these two people to his daughter, the father asked her which one she preferred. His daughter replied that she wanted to be like the little boy. She wanted to keep practicing chess and perfecting her skills, even though she felt knocked down.
She never gave up and continued to believe that she could control her reactions to hardships.
The waves in life will always find you. What matters most is how you react to those moments and what they teach you. Keep calm while looking at things from different perspectives because sometimes all it takes for change to happen is to look at things in different ways.
Once there was an old man who lived in a small town. He was known for his good work ethic and skills. When he died, he left all of his belongings that he owned to his three sons.
The oldest son inherited the man’s house, the middle son received a cow, and the youngest son got an ax and a pair of gloves. The oldest son settled in his new house, the middle son traded cow’s milk, and the youngest son earned his money with the ax and gloves he received.
Several years later, the oldest son’s house had become dirty and the middle son’s cow had become lazy. However, the gloves and the ax were still in good working order.
The youngest son had used the ax and gloves to create buildings, construct bridges, and build dams. He earned enough money to buy his own house and cow.
Down on their luck, the two older brothers thought that the ax was bewitched so they decided to steal it. They tried using it but nothing special happened so they decided to steal the gloves as well – but again, nothing happened.
The youngest didn’t mind losing his tools, and being the skilled worker that he was, he just went out to buy a new ax and gloves for himself. Once again, he started working merrily while singing a song.
The older brothers then realized that their father had instilled the most valuable gift of all in their younger brother– work skills and perseverance, which made him successful.
Harland “Colonel” Sanders was born in 1890 and was left to be the man of the house at a young age when his father died, leaving him with a mother and two younger siblings.
By the age of 7, he had started cooking and soon after, he was working several odd jobs such as a streetcar conductor, steamboat operator, soldier, fireman, lawyer, and salesman.
At the age of 40, he had mastered the perfect fried chicken recipe and had even opened a restaurant to service the high demand for his food. As he was perfecting his chicken, he was approached by a pressure cooker salesman who convinced Sanders to invest in his product to help speed along his cooking process.
Sanders ended up buying 12 pressure cookers, and then he was ready to sell a lot of chicken.
At the age of 60, he had to shut down his restaurant because a highway was being built where his restaurant was located. Colonel Sanders decided to retire, but because he was not content with living off of his $105 social security checks, he decided to franchise his chicken at the age of 65.
He started traveling to different restaurants, cooking his fried chicken on the spot for restaurant owners. If the owner liked the chicken, they would be sold the recipe. However, Colonel Sanders got denied 1,009 times before he made his first sale.
By 1964, Colonel Sanders had 600 franchises selling his trademark chicken. At this time, he sold his company for $2 million dollars but remained as a spokesperson. In 1976, the Colonel was ranked as the world's second most recognizable celebrity.
Today, KFC is one of the largest fast food franchises worldwide. It was because of Sanders’ hard work and dedication that he gained the success that he did.
Colonel Sanders accepted over 1,000 rejections before he succeeded. It was because of his perseverance that he ended up becoming the successful person that he was.
This story is inspirational because it's an example of how perseverance and dedication, along with hard work, will lead to success–regardless of your age.
In 2001, Nathan Ogden raced down an Oregon ski slope, launching himself off a jump over 30 feet into the air. While he had done this many times, something was different on this day. He caught more air than he intended to, which rotated his body backward, slamming him onto the slope.
He tried to stand, but his legs wouldn’t move. He soon learned that his neck had shattered.
Over the next few months, this married father of two threw his heart and soul into rehab and remained confident that he would walk again, despite what the doctors said. Gradually, as he gained sensation to his legs and a little independence, his doctors called his progress “miraculous.”
But he wanted his health to progress faster.
He worked tirelessly to regain use of his upper body, and while he could hardly move his legs, he was convinced that one day he would walk again.
He eventually regained 50% of his body movement, but more trouble was yet to come. In 2003, just 13 months after his skiing accident, Ogden caught pneumonia and fell unconscious in his sleep.
When his wife couldn’t wake him, he was rushed to the ER, where technicians accidentally dropped him to the floor while x-raying his lungs.
For the second time, Ogden had broken his neck. But this time, the break was higher up, which permanently paralyzed him.
All of his hard work and hundreds of hours of rehab crashed to the floor.
Years laters, he now has very little control of his upper body and no sensation from his chest down.
But when asked what went through his mind when he woke up and learned his neck was broken again, he said, “The first words I said to my wife when she told me were, ‘Bring it on.’ I knew that if I had done it once, I could do it again.”
Ogden tried to be positive throughout the coming years, but says that was easier said than done. He had fought so hard to progress after his first accident, only to have it ripped out from under him.
Ogden felt trapped, noting, “I lost my job, friends, self-esteem and almost my marriage. Being physically paralyzed is extremely difficult, but not moving mentally is painfully worse.”
But with the positive attitude that he maintained, Ogden learned to feel more compassion and empathy towards others than he’d ever experienced.
He believes he went through his challenges in order to magnify the positive results.
He continues to fight a daily battle against adversity and since his second paralysis, he has been skydiving, gone river rafting, hunting, snow skiing, water skiing and even completed a half-triathlon. He is even venturing into consulting and public speaking and writing a book to inspire as many as possible to believe in hope and progress.
Ogden notes that while he may not be able to move his legs or walk, he can stand up and face his fears, and seeks to convince other people that they can too.
This story of this British writer gives us more reasons why perseverance should be a value for everyone. As a newly divorced woman, she began as a struggling writer while living check to check on government financial support.
Even affording a computer or making copies of a manuscript was impossible. So instead, Rowling persisted and typed out each draft of her work to submit to publishers. The drafts of Harry Potter were rejected several times before finally being accepted by Bloomsbury Publishing.
Now, Rowling’s book series is world-famous, having won many awards and selling over 500 million copies. This all-time bestselling book series became one of the top 5 all-time highest-grossing movie franchises as well, making J. K. worth over 1 billion dollars presently.
One day, a farmer’s donkey fell deep into a well. The animal cried for hours while the farmer tried to figure out what to do to pull him out.
Eventually, the farmer decided the animal was old and already in poor health, and the well needed to be covered up anyway, making it not worth the trouble to try to save the donkey.
The farmer invited all his neighbors to come over and help him fill the well.
At first, the donkey cried, longing to be saved.
But to everyone’s amazement, they looked down the well and were astonished at what they saw. With every shovel of dirt that fell into the well, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up.
Pretty soon, everyone was amazed when the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and walked off.
Life is going to throw all kinds of dirt on you, but you can climb out of the deepest well by not stopping and never giving up. Shake it off and keep fighting. Don’t let your problems overcome you. Every bad experience is an opportunity for growth.
There was once a brave king named Vikram. One day, he had to fight with only a few soldiers against a large army and was defeated. He ran for his life and took shelter in a forest cave.
He lost all of his courage on this day and became very depressed. As he gazed at the ceiling of the cave, an interesting scene captured his attention.
The king noticed a small spider trying to weave a web across the cave’s ceiling. But as the spider crawled up the cave, a thread of its web broke, making the spider fall down. However, the spider didn’t give up. He continued to try to climb up the cave again and again until finally, it successfully completed the web.
Vikram thought to himself, “If this small spider can face failure so many times with such bravery, why should I give up? I will try until I succeed”. The mere thought of not giving up gave strength to the defeated king.
Vikram left the jungle and found his brave soldiers. He fought against the large army and was defeated again. But this time, he would not give up his fight.
He fought again and again against the large army and finally, after many attempts, defeated them and regained his kingdom. He learned about perseverance from the spider.
Two frogs fell into a bucket of milk. Both tried to jump to freedom, but the sides of the bucket were slippery and steep, so they couldn’t make progress.
With little chance to escape, the first frog soon gave up and stopped jumping. He sank to the bottom of the bucket and drowned.
Despite seeing this, the second frog decided to persevere. Even though his jumps were not getting any higher, he kept struggling. Eventually, the milk started to harden, as his persistent efforts churned the milk into butter. From the now hardened surface of the milk, he managed to leap out of the bucket.
In the midst of the California gold rush, two brothers sold all they had and went prospecting for gold. They discovered a vein of potential gold, staked their claim, and got down to the serious business of getting the gold out of the mine.
Everything was going fine, but when they came to the end of the rainbow, the pot of gold was gone. The brothers continued to dig for gold, but they didn’t have success. They eventually gave up.
They sold their gold digging equipment for a few hundred dollars and took the train back home.
The man who bought the equipment hired an engineer to examine the rock strata of the mine, and the engineer advised him to keep digging where the other men had left off. Three feet into his journey, the new owner struck gold.
With a little more perseverance, the two brothers would have been millionaires themselves.
Do you need to dig a few more feet? You may be closer to succeeding than you believe, so if you give up too soon, all of your hard work may go to waste.
This story teaches us about choosing your own personal formula for success, finding and using good counsel, and above all: never giving up.
One day, a professor asked his students to prepare for a pop quiz. As the students waited anxiously, the professor handed out the quiz with the text facing down as usual. Once he handed them all out, he asked the students to flip the page over and begin the quiz.
To the students’ surprise, the paper had no questions on it, just a black dot in the center of the page.
The professor told the students to write what they saw on the page. The students found this task to be inexplicable, but started writing on the blank page. At the end of the quiz, the professor took all the answer papers and read each one of them in front of the students.
Without exception, all of the students described the black dot, explaining its position, color, size, etc. The classroom was silent as the professor read their answers.
Then the professor explained, “This test was meant to give you something to think about. You all wrote about the black dot on the paper, and no one focused on all of the white around it.
The same thing happens in our lives. We always focus on the dark spots, even though we have reasons to celebrate, friends around us, jobs that provide our livelihood, and miracles surrounding us every day.”
When we focus only on the dark spots, our failures, health issues, lack of money, complicated relationships, disappointments, etc., our minds are polluted by a very small element compared to all of the good things we have going on in our lives.
Take your eyes away from your failures and anything holding you back. Remember all of the positive things you have going for you to keep moving forward through the rough times.
As the professor explained, life has both good and bad elements. We all experience positives and negatives along the way. But we must always pay more attention to the positives to lead a healthy and happy life.
You have to persevere through the dark times and not give all of your energy to negative things because life goes on no matter what.
There are countless stories about having a “never give up” attitude. Let these stories of people facing seemingly insurmountable odds but refusing to give up motivate you to never abandon your dreams.
Believe in your potential to be successful and don’t stop trying to attain your goals no matter the obstacles you face.
Accept your failures and stay focused, positive, and progressive in the face of every challenge. Check out this article on 100 perseverance quotes to help you never give up.
And if you're looking for more resources on perseverance, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 100 Perseverance Quotes to Help You Never Give Up
- 108 Never Give Up Quotes for When Life Gets Hard
- 9 Steps to Believe in Yourself to Succeed in Life
Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.