THE ART OF PERSEVERANCE is my personal blog where I write about maintaining one's purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement. Often, the difference maker to achieving success is our ability to persevere in the face of adversity.

My inspiration comes from Ephesians 2:10, which states: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Jesus Christ to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do."

I hope you find it inspirational.

I have never met a healthy person who is worried much about his health; or a good person who is worried about his soul

- John Haldane

Re-Post: She Moves in Mysterious Ways

Table for TwoI recently exchanged a few emails with a friend whom I had not seen in over 20 years. We traded stories about our families and our children, and the ups and downs we’ve experienced since the days long ago when we naively thought we had life figured out.

In one of these emails, she shared a heartbreaking story about the tragic loss of her child. I was deeply moved by her words, and cannot begin to comprehend what she and her husband went though. But as I continued reading, I found myself surprisingly uplifted as she expressed her thoughts and feelings about the experience and how it has shaped her life today.

The first thing that struck me was how she had successfully avoided falling into the “why me?” state of mind that we are all prone to when our lives cross paths with misfortune. She wrote that she has come to realize that the most important job she will ever have in her life, is to wake up and start the day full of energy and a heart filled with love for those in her life. She went on to explain how she had come to the conclusion that asking the question of “why?” lets too much anger into your heart, and that no answer could ever be good enough to satisfy. Instead, she chooses to stay positive by being grateful for the people around her and for those she has lost.

As I read her words, I felt especially connected to her – it felt as though she were sitting across from me telling me her story. Her strength in the face of adversity and how she chooses to experience her life moved me in such a way that I began to think about how I can make better choices when experiencing negative events – past, present and future – in my own life.

I have always trusted that God brings people in and out of our lives for very specific reasons. We don’t always understand the reason, but I believe it is because He knows we need those people in our life at that precise moment. It could be a neighbor, a panhandler in the street, or a friend from our past who brings us exactly what we need when we need it the most. And this re-connection came at just the right time.

As I have thought about this during the past few days, it occurred to me: If it weren’t for the 3,000 miles and twenty-plus years separating us, I would take this person lunch or coffee so I could personally say thank you, and let her know how much I appreciate her sharing her story, and opening my heart to a better way of looking at things.

Question: Who would you like to share lunch or coffee with as a way to say thank you? What are you going to do to make that possible?

What’s Your Workplace Fit?

imageFinding satisfaction in one’s career requires that we be in touch with what our skills, strengths, interests and workplace fit are. If any one of these are not present and accounted for, we feel incomplete. At one time or another, we have all experienced this feeling of being incomplete. Perhaps it is where you are right now in your career.

Of these four, the one which we have the least control over is our workplace. We can develop our skills. Nurture our strengths. And we have had a lifetime to figure out what our interests are. But we cannot always choose or have a say in the type of environment where we apply them.

This is why when we find ourselves in a state of transition in our career, it is so important to identify what our workplace fit is. Once we understand what our fit is, we can seek a role that allows us to contribute our gifts and effectively add value. A resource is provided at the end of this post, where you can take an assessment to find out yours, but in short, there are seven approaches to the workplace:

  1. Realistic (Doers)
  2. Investigative (Thinkers)
  3. Artistic (Creators)
  4. Social (Helpers)
  5. Enterprising (Persuaders)
  6. Conventional (Organizers)
  7. Attentive (Servers)

Most people’s work personality is a combination of their three highest types. In my own case, I score highest in these areas: Artistic, Conventional, and Enterprising. Essentially, I am most effective when I am operating in a creative, entrepreneurial environment, where everyone is moving toward the same goal.

Knowing this about myself enables me to seek roles where these three approaches are present. This not only ensures that I am meeting my own need for fulfilling work, but that my gifts are creating the most value for my business partners, and clients alike.

Question: Do you know what your workplace fit is?

Additional resources can be found at www.livecareer.com

Re-Post: What Will Be Your Defining Moment?

image Last evening I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of Stan Kwit. Stan was a guest speaker at our church’s weekly Employment Ministry meeting. He gave a brief talk entitled “Change Can be Good”, in which he challenged the audience to find the hidden opportunities that exist in the adversities we face in our lives. The topic is timely given the audience, made up of job seekers recently laid off from major corporations, or retirees re-entering the workforce out of necessity.

Addressing the fragile audience, Stan shared his personal experience of suffering a traumatic job loss in the early 1980’s:

Stan was a manufacturers rep for a company that distributed machinery to various manufacturers of steel products. After 31 years with his employer, he and other members of his business division were asked to participate in a company conference call one Friday afternoon. During this call the company delivered a death-blow to his division, notifying the employees that the division, along with their jobs, would no longer exist by the end day. Devastating news for anyone with a growing family and a home.

Recognizing what this meant for himself and the future of his family, Stan turned what could have been an absolute misfortune into a defining moment in his life. Stan immediately evaluated the situation before him, and realized that not only had he and his colleagues lost their jobs, but the customers they represented had lost their representation in the marketplace. That very weekend Stan contacted as many of those customers as he could, offering his services to them directly. He saw that he could provide those customers with continuity in the marketplace, while operating on his own. And by Monday morning, Stan was in business for himself.

Together with his wife, Stan successfully operated his business for 17 years until he retired 6 years ago. At 81 years of age, Stan enjoys dividing his time between his two homes in Michigan and Florida, doing what he is most passionate about – fishing.

Although Stan’s story takes place nearly 25 years ago, it is not an unfamiliar one today. Company’s are eliminating jobs, scaling down operations and shuttering costly business units – all in the name of the very purpose that businesses exists – to earn a profit for its shareholders. The changes effecting thousands of workers every day, are being made for this very reason. It is not necessarily a direct reflection of the affected employees individual performance. However, that is what most people suffering a job loss feels the most – the loss of a job is personal, and it affects their self-esteem.

In recognizing this, you take the first step towards uncovering the opportunities that are hidden in adversity. The next step is to choose your desired outcome – Will you define the moment?, or will you allow the moment to define you?

Question: What challenges are you currently facing, and what are you doing to find the hidden opportunities that await you?

The best way to know God is to love many things.

– Vincent Van Gogh

3 Ways to Avoid Natural Selection

Career EvolutionIn his 1859 publication, “On the Origin of Species”, Charles Darwin presented a body of evidence supporting his theory of Natural Selection; which [paraphrased] states that those who adapt are ensured survival, and those who do not adapt are ensured extinction. Darwin’s theory is founded on the basic biological phenomena called Adaptive Evolution, which is defined as the process whereby a living creature becomes better suited to survive within its environment through a series of small changes that occur over time.

Now is the perfect time for us to make some small changes in our lives to adapt to our current environment. It cannot be argued that our very own human habitat is experiencing tremendous change worldwide. Our economy is in transition. The employment landscape is changing. Families are losing their homes at a rate of 8,000 foreclosures per day. In almost all areas of our lives we face increased competition, and the direct result of competition is the extinction of the less fit – Natural Selection.

Instead of flirting with extinction, apply these three suggestions and increase your chances of survival:

  1. Enhance your skills. Learn critical skills that will keep you at the forefront of your trade, profession or industry. Your current and future employer(s) are looking to create efficiencies in their businesses. Knowing the latest trends and applying best practices can boost your efficacy and increase your value in the marketplace. Perhaps you have been considering a complete career overhaul – begin today to explore your options and start searching for a role that aligns with your core values. Whether it’s improving your skills for your current job or transitioning into an entirely new career, there is no better time than now to proactively focus on this area of your life.
  2. Modify your spending habits. Begin by taking a look at what you regularly spend your money on. It is very likely that you will find a few areas where you are spending money that are not necessary to your survival. Look for ways to package your communication tools (phone, cable, internet) to save money. Sign up for your utility providers balanced billing programs to make monthly expenses more predictable. Stop unnecessary spending – Can’t make it through the day without your Venti Double-Mocha, Triple-Shot Frappuccino? or lighting up a smoke to satisfy your nicotine cravings? Try approaching these items as an opportunity to give up a costly habit that will pay you dividends in both your health, and financial peace of mind.
  3. Maintain a positive outlook. It is easy to become discouraged when faced with a financial shortfall, or to live in fear as job losses are rising every day. Now more than ever, it is important to put your energy towards positive activities. Remember – this too shall pass, and it is only temporary. Start by curbing your appetite for the sensationalized media onslaught of our 24/7 news culture. Dare I even suggest turning off your television altogether! Instead, focus on exercising, writing or journaling, mediation, prayer, and music. These are all excellent ways to maintain a positive energy in your life – and they all cost nothing! Most importantly, if you are in a relationship, it is imperative to maintain open and honest communication with your partner or spouse about your thoughts and feelings. THINK before your speak. Whatever you have to say, you can say it in a positive and productive manner.

Evolve or Die!

New & Improved

Welcome to the re-branding of The Art of Perseverance!

After several years of posting with Wordpress, I have decided to migrate my blog over to Tumblr. Here at this new location, you will find information relevant to our times, as well as applicable content re-posted from my former blog.

Here are a few reasons for the change:

  1. As of January 2011, Tumblr has 20+ million users - reaching this milestone in only four years. It took WordPress twice as long to attain this many users.
  2. Over the past several years, Tumblr has increased its user base, becoming the #8 largest site in U.S. Social Networks and Blog category. (Source: State of the Media: The Social Media Report - Q3 2011. Nielsen)
  3. Tumblr combines the elements of Twitter and Blog. It is designed for shorter content intended to be delivered quickly and more frequently than long-form blogs.
  4. Ease of use. While I had become used to the WP interface and knew my way around, I can create and post with less effort on Tumblr. Thus, enabling me to focus on other things.

I’m just following the old adage “Evolve or Die!”, which you can read about in my post here.

I hope that you enjoy the new site.

Re-Post: Perspective and the Human Spirit

Try Again!Like most of us, I have encountered significant personal and professional challenges in my life. While reflecting on my experiences, I began to notice my thoughts circling back on a recurring theme – the resiliency of the human spirit. And I began thinking – just how far would we have to fall before we could no longer get back up?

The answer to this question will be different for each of us because we have all had different life experiences. And it is from those experiences that we each measure how far that fall would have to be. For some people, a small tumble is enough to discourage them to the point where they no longer try. While for others, a staggering freefall can seem like a small thrill ride. Our answers depend on upon one thing – our perspective.

Perspective is a choice. It is intelligently choosing a point of reference from which we look a situation we are currently experiencing, in order to compare it against a past experience. When applied, perspective is a delicious elixer that allows us to open our hearts and minds to clarity. And with clarity comes the vision that is needed for us to develop an executable plan that will eventually enable each of us to overcome the fall and to stand strong once again.

Perspective is also a perpetual cycle. Every adversity we encounter; every failure we suffer, is a new opportunity for us to evaluate our experience, process it, and use it to codify our future experiences. Perspective is also linear. As we travel our journey, the road behind us becomes longer. It is a long road littered with our failures, our successes, our disappointments and our falls. Things that seemed monumental when we were experiencing them, now appear insignificant when we look down that road with perspective.

But above all, perspective can be healing. Perspective can free us of the repression and maladies that come with being overwhelmed. The paralysis that comes from being fearful. The pain that comes with our personal failures. Perspective washes away the opacity and provides us with a realistic view of our challenges and adversities, enabling us to get back up, dust our selves off, and keep moving forward.

Always remember:

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” – Nelson Mandela

Question: Just how far would you have to fall before you could no longer get back up?

One of My Favorite Poems

"When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodg’d with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve there with my Maker, and present

My true account, lest he returning chide

"Doth God exact a day-labor, light denied?"

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies: “God doth need

Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best

Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state

is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed

And post o’er land and ocean without rest:

They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Re-Post: Fulfilling Our Life’s Purpose

Cross Life RingInside a Texas hospital on the northern tip of Galveston Island, five sailors recover and grieve the loss of their shipmate – 54 year old Roger Stone. Stone was one of two safety officers aboard the 38-foot Cynthia Woods as it embarked on a 600-mile race from Galveston to Veracruz, Mexico. The ships 6 man crew encountered choppy seas at approximately 11:30PM 60-miles into the race.

Travis Wright, 20, a student sailor on board stepped from his bunk into a growing puddle of water in the ships cabin. As he alerted the crew and they tried to drop their sails, the Cynthia Woods began to list towards the starboard side, and within seconds had capsized. Two crew members, Ross Busby, 21, and Joseph Savana, 18, and the ships second safety officer, Steve Conway, 55, slid across the deck and into the sea.

Below deck, three crew members remained in the upside down cabin. As water rushed into the cabin, Steven Guy, 20, cried out, “How do we get out of here?”, Stone guided Steven through the surging water, pushing him through the hatch to the open sea. Travis Wright tried to pass through the opening, but was pushed back by the rushing water as Stone told him he had to try to get through. Grabbing Wright, Stone pointed him downward towards the opening and shoved him through the hatch.

Seconds later, as Wright surfaced just feet from the sinking vessel, he could see his shipmates treading water about ten yards away, where Conway was cradling Steven Guy, who had lost his life vest escaping, in a lifeguard hold. As they pitched in the waves the men stared in astonishment as they looked at the ship laying belly-up beneath the surface of the water with a giant gash where the ships 5,000-pound keel had torn away.

The Cynthia Woods was equipped with an emergency radio beacon that would alert the Coast Guard once the boat had sunk passed a depth of 13 feet. The ship was also scheduled to check in via radio to the University marina at 8AM. If the crew did not complete the call, the marina was to alert the Coast Guard.

During their 26 hour ordeal, Conway, himself a former Coast Guard Commander, called on his 21-years experience in uniform as he and the four student sailors drifted in 6-foot seas. He told the crew that they would survive if they all remain calm and use their heads. Lashing themselves together, the men fended off hypothermia, biting fish, and Portuguese Man-o-wars with 100-ft of stinging tentacles.

18 hours into their ordeal, several search planes passed overhead, and a Coast Guard cutter sailed far in the distance. At 2AM, more than 26 hours after capsizing, Conway pulsed his flashlight toward the sky, where the crew of a low flying rescue helicopter spotted the flashes in their night vision and circled back for another look.

As the crew was rescued, the rescue diver called out that he had been notified of a crew list of five, but counted only five men, and Travis Wright announced that one man was still with the boat. Later that day, six miles from where the crew has been plucked from the sea, a marine salvage diver found the body of Roger Stone floating upside down in the ships cabin. He had drowned after saving the lives of his student sailors Steven guy and Travis Wright.

Described as a quiet, square-built man with a captain’s beard, Stone was a life-long sailor with a respect for the sea and it’s power. Hundreds of mourners attended Roger Stone’s funeral, where he was remembered as a hero for saving the lives of his ship mates.

I can’t help but think that this was Roger Stone’s purpose, and wonder that if I knew this was my purpose, could I do the same? A life spent as a sailor on the open sea, charged with the safety of a student crew aboard the Cynthia Woods, to be “in the right place, at the right time”, to save the lives of two crew members through the sacrifice of his own life.

Question: If it were your life’s purpose to sacrifice your own life so that others could live, could you fulfill your purpose?

"Every charitable act is a stepping stone towards Heaven." - Henry Ward Beecher
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