The power of determination

by Henrylito D. Tacio

While visiting his grandfather, my Filipino-American friend Gregory Ira came across a book lying in the desk. He noticed that there was one page – the only page in the book – with the corner bent in. “Presumably by my grandpa,” he wrote me.

Greg was curious so he read the page. It was a poem entitled, The Quitter, and was written by Robert Service. The poem was very interesting so he sent it to me. “I thought you might be interested in it,” Greg pointed out in his e-mail.

The poem has three stanzas with eight lines. The first stanza has this message: “Fight all you can,” as the Code of a Man states. The second stanza urges:

Buck up, do your damnedest, and fight.

It’s the plugging away that will win you the day.”

The final stanza advices:

It’s easy to cry that you’re beaten – and die;

It’s easy to crawfish and crawl;

But to fight and to fight when hope’s out of site —

Why, that’s the best game of them all! 

And though you come out of each grueling bout,

All broken and beaten and scarred,

Just have one more try — it’s dead easy to die,

It’s the keeping-on-living that’s hard.”

Living in this world, indeed, is not easy. Life is like a game and, as the above poem suggests, it should be won. Life can also be compared to a war that must be finished. “Life’s battles don’t always go / To the stronger or faster man. / But soon or late the man who wins, / Is the man who thinks he can,” reminds C.W. Longenecker.

A quitter never wins and winner never quits, so goes a saying. Benjamin Disraeli points out: “Through perseverance many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” Or to quote the words of Samuel Johnson, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”

If, for instance, you are a writer, keep on writing. But don’t just write; do something, too. As Isaac Asimov recommends, “You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success — but only if you persist.”

Author Jack Canfield explains: “One of the most important qualities you will need to develop in order to continue taking action is persistence. You must be persistent in your disciplines and habits; perseverant in the face of adversity, hardship and challenge; and determined to achieve your dreams, no matter what.”

But life is not always a bed of roses. Canfield is very much aware of this: “There will be many times when you will want to quit, give up, and go back to doing something else, but the one quality that will guarantee your success is the willingness to stick with it, to see it through to the end — to refuse to settle for anything less than your dream. The longer you hang in there, the greater the chance that something will happen in your favor. No matter how hard it seems, the longer you persist, the more likely your success will be.”

Many people fail in life because they believe in adage: If you don’t succeed, try something else. Don B. Owens, Jr. warns, “Success eludes those who follow such advice. Virtually everyone has had dreams at one time or another, specially the youth. The dreams that have come true did so because people stuck to their ambitions. They refused to be discouraged. They never let disappointments get the upper hand. Challenges only spurred them on to greater effort.”

Billionaire H. Ross Perot compared working on a certain project to that of a football game. “Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success,” he says. “They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” Author Norman Vincent Peale proposes: “If you want to get somewhere you have to know where you want to go and how to get there. Then never, never, never give up.”

Remember British Prime Minister Winston Churchill? It took him three years to get through the eighth grade because he had trouble learning his own language. But what is interesting about Churchill is the fact that years later, the Oxford University requested him to deliver a commencement address. He accepted the offer and as usual, he arrived for the event with his usual props – a cigar, a cane, and a top hat.

With dignity, Churchill settled the crowd as he stood confidently before his admirers. When it was time for him to speak, he stood up and went to the platform. Then, he removed the cigar and carefully placed his top hat on the lectern. Looking directly at the eager audience and with authority ringing in his voice, he declared, “Never give up!”

Several seconds passed. He rose to his toes and shouted again, “Never give up!” His words thundered across the audience. There was profound silence as Churchill then reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane, and left the platform. His address was finished.

Never give up. So, now, what is holding you back to pursue your ambition? Is it really your lack of resources, as you constantly tell yourself, or is that just a convenient excuse? The Daily Motivator reminds, “Excuses are the sure and reliable building blocks of failure. Whether you find yourself offering them or accepting them, they are a definite warning flag that you are veering off course.”

The world is full of examples of men facing great obstacles in life but because of sheer determination, they were able to get “out from the pit” and became the “toast of the world.” No matter what the world did to them, they have proven that you cannot put a good man down:

Call him a slow learner, tab him as being retarded, write him off as being uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein, Nobel laureate and perhaps the most well-known scientist of the 20th century.

Raise him in an abject poverty, make him struggle through political defeat after defeat, let him lose the love of his life, and you have an Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States and one of the great men of history.

Strike him down with infantile paralysis, take away his legs, make him dependent utterly on others, and he becomes a Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose unprecedented election to four terms as American president will probably never be repeated.

Stab him with rheumatic pains until for years he cannot sleep without drugs and you have Charles Proteus Steinmetz, a German-American electrical engineer and inventor.

Have him or her born black in a society which is filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Harriet Tubman, a Marian Anderson, a George Washington Carver, a Martin Luther King Jr., or a Nelson Mandela.

Make him a second fiddler in an obscure South American orchestra and you have an Arturo Toscanini, an Italian conductor who brought great music to the attention of thousands of new listeners during a career that spanned nearly 70 years.

Author Canfield was right when he said, “Adversity is what gives you the opportunity to develop your inner resources of character and courage. Adversity is a great teacher. It will test you and make you stronger. But you have to hang in there and not give up!”

That is what the power of determination is all about. — ###

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