Passion and perseverance can be key to success

Passion and perseverance, or “grit,” can take you far in life. Michigan 4-H programs can help provide both.

Passion and perseverance, or “grit,” can take you far in life.
Passion and perseverance, or “grit,” can take you far in life.

Success is less often a straight line and more of a meandering journey with twists, turns, ups and downs. Some have navigated this journey and have become successful. As we take this journey, wouldn’t we like to model our efforts from those that have succeeded? What sets those individuals who have succeeded apart, or what has aided them in their success? Are there some characteristics or traits that are consistent with those that have reached their goals, and if so, where or what can we do to gain those characteristics?

To reach economic success, intelligence, socioeconomic or physical looks don’t play a part. Thomas Stanley, who wrote the “Millionaire Mind,” echoes that with his research of millionaires and deca-millionaires. He states that there is no correlation to IQ or grades in high school or college that determine who becomes a millionaire. In fact, he goes on to say that many of their early failures or low grades were their motivation to become successful. It is the passion for their vocation that is a key factor. They love what they do and they have become successful at it.

Rome was not built in a day. Research has backed much of the claims that it is the day in and day out efforts that pay off in the long run. The little day-to-day challenges and obstacles we encounter need to be overcome. Driven from the inner motivation that fuels the person or group, it is the perseverance and determination that keep them focused on the goal. It’s what some may call grit.

Angela Lee Duckworth, who spoke on TED Talks, sites “grit” as the leading factor of success. Duckworth, with her research, indicates grit is the best indicator of success in and out of the school environments. She defines grit as passion and perseverance. In his book, Stanley sites that many of the millionaires he’s interviewed again list passion for their vocation as a major factor, but also their ability to take risks and recover from their failures. Getting over life’s setbacks and continually moving toward their goals sets them apart. It’s not that you got knocked down, it’s how you get up that counts.

4-H programing allows youth to either pursue their passion or explore new ones. They have passionate volunteers to guide them through research-based educational materials and programs. They also have a safe environment that allows youth to take risks, possibly fail, but learn from it. In these 4-H programs, youth learn the skills of day-to-day or weekly efforts. They take on responsibilities needed to accomplish their goals.

They equate life to a marathon. It’s not a sprint; it’s about finishing the race. If you know you are in it for the long run and keep your sights on that finish line, success may be achieved. It takes passion, dedication and perseverance, or grit to get there. But if it is a labor of love, you have a good chance to become very successful. Or at least you will enjoy the journey.

For more information on Michigan 4-H and Michigan State University Extension programs, or to find a new passion to explore, please visit the MSU Extension website

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