THERE are many inspiring lessons about perseverance. And the one that hits the nail on its head is the story of a Japanese who has passed the bar exam after 17 consecutive failures. Hideo Watanabe, a 44-year-old guard of Fuji Film Co. was reported to have refrained from drinking and smoking, even stopped playing go (Japanese chess), to prepare for Japan’s bar examination, touted as the toughest of all similar written qualifying assessments for lawyers anywhere.
Watanabe is one good example of Josh Billings’ lesson about life: “Consider the postage stamp. It secures success through its ability to stick to one thing till it gets there.” Never mind that Watanabe’s story came out 75 years ago, on Sept. 25, 1941 to be exact, according to The Japan Times.
How do we compare Watanabe with English-speaking, noted people like Lance Armstrong, Thomas Alva Edison, Hellen Keller, and Stevie Wonder, and others. In case you’re not familiar with their names or may have forgotten them, let me describe their personal qualities:
Armstrong is a cyclist who won the Tour de France despite having cancer and broken collarbone that weakened his body and his troubled marriage that destroyed his spirit. Edison was a light bulb and phonograph inventor who was known for his famous edict: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Keller is blind and deaf who became the first such person to earn a bachelor’s degree and later on became an author, political activist, and lecturer. In recent memories—Stevie Wonder, whose real name is Stevland Hardaway Judkins, is a blind musician, singer, song writer, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist who is best remembered for the 1972 hit “You are the Sunshine of my Life.”
Their stories have one important lesson in life. If you want to succeed, never mind the cloud and its accompanying rain. Instead, always look out for the rainbow. If there’s no rainbow, at least be satisfied that the rain watered the farm, filled-up our dams, and made frogs sing their favorite songs. Never mind how old the stories are, but it’s timeless, positively evoking lessons. It’s like applying old solutions to new problems.
Yesterday, there was an article in the lifestyle section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer about a grandmother who became a lawyer at age 67. Eloisa Reye Barretto is not your typical housewife and mother of five. She’s an accountant, gemologist, and businesswoman. But there’s one thing about her being a moneyed person. Barreto is a new example proving the value of an old solution.
Therefore, how do you persevere despite all odds, including age and physical limitations? In the words of Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up!” Stay on course. Show commitment with relentless pride and positive energy in completing a task. Trying again and again and again like Watanabe who passed the bar exam after 17 attempts and Edison who learned 10,000 times from his failed experiments.
And of course, being patient as you work hard enough, day and night. That’s a common pattern when one tries to move forward. But before moving forward, how does perseverance being used by our inept politicians and corrupt government leaders? For one, how do you look at political dynasty as the wrong use of perseverance to hold on to power?
Don’t you wish that everyone in our society who would wrongly use perseverance be banished from earth? Of course, there’s much more to consider. So the real questions—how do we explain the positive use of perseverance to our children, so that they can forget about our nothing doing politicians? Well, at least, my wife can read Eric Carle’s “The Very Busy Spider” to our first grandson, Teo, now a 3.5 years old energetic, playful, and English-speaking pre-school boy.
The busy spider is one important lesson on perseverance. Don’t mind all the noises from literal and figurative animals. Spin your web to your heart’s content. Do your job and do it well. Fortunately, the world has a lot to offer.
You can turn a problem into an opportunity or vice versa, depending on how you appreciate things.
Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter for his random management thoughts.