A good friend recently sent me a news clipping about the importance of determination. The piece began: "A professor who studied the lives of his students over more than 20 years concluded that there was one quality that made the most difference for the good life. He found some of the people very successful and others hopeless failures. Some were growing and others were simply growing older. `The longer I live (the professor said) the more I am certain that the great difference between men, between the feeble and the powerful, the great and the insignificant ... is determination.' "
The story quoted Victor Hugo, the 19th century French poet and novelist, as saying, "People do not lack strength. They lack will."
It is perhaps revealing that there are so many other synonyms for determination. Resolution, persistence, gumption, tenacity, fortitude, heart, perseverance, mettle, drive, doggedness, backbone, grit and pluck are just some of the words that describe this trait.
Determination is something with which almost anyone can make themselves successful beyond their wildest dreams. Those without it, no matter how talented or intelligent, won't succeed.
Heart is most easily seen in sports. It isn't the most physically gifted athlete who stands out-it is the one who works the hardest, trains the most and won't give up. Michael Jordan was a very good athlete to be sure, but what he really did was outwork everyone else. He was a legendary practice player as well as game player.
In other fields we watch the people who have a vision and use their energies, talents and willpower to make it a reality. They don't flinch when the course is difficult. They believe in themselves and the organization's goals. They are usually good team players but if necessary they will carry on by themselves. They aren't afraid of competition-in fact, they love it.
I know and have met salespeople who are not particularly gifted who have been successful because they are persistent and determined. Years ago in New York when I was a salesman at Look magazine, I had a colleague whom I was unimpressed with at first glance. He just didn't have the appearance or personality to make it in sales. I soon learned he was a legend in ad sales and later became publisher of a top women's magazine. He was the hardest worker anyone had seen. He simply didn't take no for an answer. When other salespeople were hanging around the office making idle chatter, he was nowhere to be found because he was making calls on clients, selling ads.
Determination when combined with courage is unbeatable. It signifies everything anyone wants in a member of a team, sporting or otherwise. The expression, "She's determined to be the best there is" or "He was so determined to win the race" are expressions we hear all the time. Anyone who has accomplished anything important is aware of the effort involved. Some people live their whole lives this way.
In this day and age when everything is measured, determination is the one thing that cannot be quantified. Some people simply have it, while others can cultivate it by looking at themselves and at those who have succeeded and seeing what it takes to get off their duff and start really working toward a goal.
I am not talking about taking shortcuts and cheating to succeed but really giving everything one has to accomplish something of meaning.
There are so many stories about people who have overcome insurmountable odds and done something so incredible that everyone is left in disbelief. There are track athletes who lost a leg and still compete, pint-sized basketball point guards who still manage to score and blind musicians such as Ray Charles who break new artistic ground.
Maybe the best example of determination can be found when we look at what women have accomplished in sometimes hostile conditions in recent decades. I am old enough to remember well all the silly talk about the weaker sex, so though what women have done is now thought of as no big deal to younger people, it would have been a big surprise to many of my old colleagues at past jobs.
Today women have broken all kinds of barriers, entering fields once thought of as exclusively male preserves and excelling. They are active in all sports and professionals in several. They are running major corporations, serving as governors, senators, university presidents, you name it. They work alongside men in physical jobs such as auto repair, construction and the military.
These women were determined to have more fulfilling lives, and they pushed to make it happen. It took determination, guts and strength to force all of this change.
Through hard work and determination you can get what you want out of life. There is no waiting around for the "right time." You make it happen-sooner rather than later.
Don't let it pass you by,