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Extraordinary success comes most often to those who are unusually persistent and truly determined to achieve a specific career or personal goal. Exceptional individuals like these dont rely on accident or luck, although that may help. They work long and hard, often giving up comfort, family life and security in the process. Counterintuitively, failure seems to stimulate them to grapple more actively with their next big challenge.

President Calvin Coolidge said it best: Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

So you think you might want to achieve such extraordinary success? Consider the following:

1. Are you prepared to make the necessary personal sacrifice? How much of your life are you willing to give up? How will you feel if you are absent at your childrens births and teenage activities? Hard work and long hours will become the major components of your life. As the ancient Greek playwright Sophocles said, There is no success without hardship.

2. How persistent can you be? If it takes years or even decades, do you think you will be able to stick to your ambitious goals? Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, a physicist at Northeastern University, points out in his upcoming book, The Formula, that persistence is the most important variable that enables people of all ages, young or old, to capitalize on their ideas. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once commented, Im convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-
successful ones is pure perseverance.

3. How have you reacted in the past to the tougher hurdles of life? Have you learned anything from your failures? Thomas Edison, the inventor who endured hundreds of failures before he found success with the light bulb, has been quoted as saying, Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

4. Can you lead people? You will need help in attaining your goals; you cannot do it by yourself. You must be capable of explaining your ideas to others and challenging them to plow ahead. Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion, said Jack Welch, former General Electric CEO.

5. Can you be sure that your determination wont fade over time in the face of strong adversity? As Steve Jobs famously observed, If you really look closely, most overnight success took a long time. Although the jury is still out, Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk is a current example of the drive, determination and persistence necessary to achieve ultimate success.Those of us who appreciate his spirit hope he makes it. If he does, hes earned it.

6. And finally, is your long-term goal actually attainable? Others may tell you that what you want to achieve is impossible. You are the only one who can make the decision to go forward despite such advice, but the thrill of the ride might well be worth the effort.

Jack Goodhue, management coach, may be contacted at

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