Persistence Part II

Most everyone knows a story or two about people who persevere in life. People like to repeat those stories and others like to hear them. Many persistence stories grab us by the heart strings. We tear up sometimes when we hear them. Many of the stories leave lasting  impressions on us.

Why is that?

I think it’s because we admire people who are willing to push themselves past the point of endurance to accomplish a goal, or to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Most of the stories we hear are about people who have become successful or famous. That’s because they have achieved greatness or notoriety in some area of life as a result of their perseverance.

Oprah Winfrey is one example. She was born in rural Mississippi to a poor unwed teenaged mother, and later raised in an inner city Milwaukee neighborhood. She was a rape victim  at the age of nine, and at fourteen, she gave birth to a son who died in infancy. Sent to live with the man she calls her father, a barber in Tennessee, Winfrey landed a job in radio while still in high school and began co-anchoring the local evening news at the age of 19.

Her emotional ad-lib delivery eventually got her transferred to the daytime talk show arena, and after boosting a third-rated local Chicago talk show to first place, she launched her own production company and became internationally syndicated.

Oprah Winfrey became a millionaire at age 32. Because of the amount of revenue the show generated, Winfrey was in a position to negotiate ownership of the show and start her own production company. By 1994 the show’s ratings were still thriving and Winfrey negotiated a contract that earned her nine figures a year.

Oprah Winfrey, considered the richest woman in entertainment by the early 1990s, became the richest at age 41. Winfrey’s wealth crossed another milestone when, with a net worth of $340 million, she replaced Bill Cosby as the only African-American on the Forbes 400.

Her success is largely due to her “don’t ever quit” persistence.

Art Linkletter followed a similar perseverance path to achieve rare and admirable success in a highly competitive industry.
He  literally began his life with nothing. His biological mother, a young single girl, gave him up in infancy. A poor middle-aged couple adopted him. Art’s adoptive father was kind but had no business sense at all. He was a part-time preacher. He tried selling insurance, running a general store and making shoes. All his business endeavors failed and his family remained poor.

Eventually the family ended up living in a . Then Art’s dad felt called into full-time ministry. Then they had even less money. What little money they did have, Art’s dad gave away to poor people or panhandlers he met.

Linkletter graduated from high school early and hit the road as a hobo at 16. He and a traveling companion escaped death at the hands of two robbers while they slept in a freight train boxcar.

Later, Linkletter landed a radio announcer job and, after a few years, a TV gig. Linkletter eventually became host of two of the most successful TV shows in the history of the industry and one of the most likable personalities in the industry.

What did Linkletter and Winfrey have in common? Both of them embraced persistence and nurtured their “don’t ever quit” attitude.

In part III we will look at a woman who was so persistent she bordered on belligerent. She was so persistent that she angered her boss and pestered and prodded him into giving her what she wanted.

Did you miss Persistence Part I? Just follow this link to read it.

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6 thoughts on “Persistence Part II

  1. Great topic, Steve! For many of us, the capacity for focus that’s required in order to persist is probably limited. That is, we have the internal resource to “focus and pursue” one big thing. My retired psychotherapist friend, Alan, has been “clean and sober” for 29 years this week! That’s persistence. However, he admits that many other aspects of his daily affairs are unfocused. So, I believe that persistence is also about sustainability. We may not be able to sustain persistence in multiple arenas.


    1. Roger,
      Wise insight, my friend. You are right. Even in my own experience I can remember times of persistence. But persistence across other areas escaped me as I focused on one area. That’s probably a thought I need to mention in my part III. Thanks again.


  2. Thanks, Amanda, for your kind words. Yes, He sure must be speaking to us. I know He is to me. Persistence has really been on my mind this whole week.


  3. These kind of stories have always inspired me. Perseverance is a very essential ingredient to almost any great success. I notice you’re a religious person, Mr. Sawyer. In that context, I really like this one quote from the Bible. It says “To him who knocketh it shall be opened.” Thanks for posting this.


    1. Thank you, Petr, for your kind words and for enjoying Perseverence. I’ll have part 3 posted in a day or two. Hope you’ll come back.


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