OEN AwardsLast week at the Oregon Entrepreneur Network awards there was an impressive parade of success stories from companies of every stripe – tech, clothing, construction, you name it. In hearing the stories of leaders behind these remarkable successes, I noticed one common, pervasive theme – Persistence.

It was fascinating to hear how these people overcame obstacles, failures, and disappointments by simply refusing to take “no” for an answer. One CEO said: “Success is being knocked down, having your dreams stomped on, spat on, ground into the dirt, and thrown in your face, and being able to get back up, dust yourself off and try again – and again.”

The Great Equalizer

The unequaled power of persistence lies in its ability to make up for every other shortcoming you possess (or at least that you believe that you possess) – education, looks, age, talent, fitness, experience – whatever. Persistence can overcome them all. Persistence is what turns mountains into sand. It turns riverbeds into canyons. It alone can penetrate any barrier. What? You didn’t realize you have super-powers?

Talk to just about any successful person and I’ll be willing to bet persistence is a part of their story.

The Long Run

In my experience, success is more often then not, a war of attrition. The prize goes to the last one standing, once those without the heart or staying power have been weeded out. I have seen several companies – who were competing with better talent and technology – lose because they had a short-term mindset. If it is important, stick with it. You have to be in it for the long run.

Closer Every Day

Often it can be next to impossible to see your progress. When we are constantly pressed up against the wall of our limitations, it can be extremely difficult to see the microscopic changes that are taking place. It can be tough to measure the progress that seems to come in millimeter increments (which is why we’ve developed tools to help provide that visibility). When you are crossing the desert, one mile of parched sand looks pretty much like all the rest.

The vantage points that allow you to see your progress can be few and far between, but if you have a clear goal, clarity of purpose behind your efforts, your persistence is moving you closer every day.

Calvin Coolidge said, “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.”

I’d love to hear how persistence has figured into your personal success story!