“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from strong will, and the other from strong won’t.”
Henry Ward Beecher
“Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.”
A.A. Milne -Winnie the Pooh
The wonderful thing about all these values is that there are similarities between them but there are also definable differences, which is why they exist in the first place. Two days ago we talked about being resilient, how we need to strengthen our resolve in the face of adversity. So how is this different from perseverance?
One way of being resilient is to persevere but equally valid is the idea that in order to be resilient you need to let go and stop being so persistent.
There is great strength in persevering but there could also be irritation, especially for others who don’t understand your utter persistence, for example, in following a cause when all efforts seem utterly futile.
We are completely committed, for instance, to promoting education systems that are fit for the 21st century, that enable children to love learning and be mindful of their and others’ wellbeing. We need to be resilient against the conservatism of those in power, who see education more as a qualifications factory that “prepares children for adult life”. However resilience is not enough. We need to persevere with our ideas and persevere in meeting together with people who have similar thoughts to our own in order to make the changes that will ultimately benefit all.
In our personal lives we all need to persevere to be a better person, to manage and nurture the relationships in our lives so they are healthy, loving and thoughtful. Yet this is a more subtle perseverance. We should persevere without it seeming as though we are doing so; quietly, calmly, thought-lessly even. Perseverance is patient.
Perseverance is positive. If you truly believe in the rightness of something, one has to persevere. Others may see your perseverance as stubbornness or being obstinate. Others still may see it as determined, resolute and purposeful. Perseverance can bring dividends and sometimes it doesn’t.
Learning when to persevere and when to release is a tricky lesson and one of life’s precarious balancing acts.