The Number-One Cause for Success: Persistence

Written by Trần Đình Hoành

Translated by Nguyễn Hà Huyền Vân

Hi folks,

Today we will have a look at Richard St. John’s speech regarding the 8 secrets of success. Richard came up with these 8 causes after interviewing 500 highly successful people in the world. These are Passion, Hard work, Good, Focus, Push, Serve, Ideas, and Persistence. In the last part, which is about “Persistence”, Richard quoted Joe Kraus’s saying, “Persistence is the number one reason for our success”. I agree with this quote. If I have to retain only one and discharge the other seven causes, “Persistence” would be the one that I’ll keep. And that is exactly why I’m going to discuss with you a bit more about persistence in this entry.

Most of us probably have heard about the story “The Tortoise and the Hare” by La Fontaine. A step-by-step persistence will lead us to our goal, usually earlier than fast people who lack diligence. Too simple, isn’t it? Hard work leads to success. Yet, why is it so hard for many people to succeed? If the formula were so simple, 95% of people would have been highly successful, wouldn’t they?

In fact, there is one important thing that La Fontaine did not mention in his story “The Tortoise and the Hare”. That thing is “Persistence against negativity from ourselves, from the environment, and from other people”.  Everybody in the world could be hard-working, but only 1 in 100 people could fight against negativity from themselves, from their surroundings, and from other people. And that explains the very small number of successful people in the society.

1. Persistence in overcoming negativity from ourselves

Many people are shy and self-doubting. Shyness means hesitance, fear of doing something different from others, fear of standing up among the sitting crowd to strive for our ideas. It is more comfortable sinking into the crowd. And it is much easier for us to do something that nobody knows than doing something that requires exposure.

Most people in the world are like that. Nobody wants to be known by many people, as it will cause us trouble and loss of freedom. But if you are creative and adventurous, in most cases, it is a matter of course that many people will know you. Those who fail to overcome their shyness will not be able to explore themselves, and their creativity will die from the start.

Self-doubt means not having enough confidence to believe that you can do something worthwhile. This is very common to many many many people. And this is the “number one killer”. The battle is lost before it is fought. Have you ever asked yourself: “Hmm… this guy has nothing better than me, how come he is so successful?” The answer may lie in the fact that he has started to believe that he would reach the destination, while you are still here wondering “Can I do it?”

Norman Vincent Peale, the founder of Positive thinking, said: “People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.”

2. Persistence in overcoming circumstances

Blaming the circumstances is the excuse that we hear most often from people who accept a life without striving. They keep saying that they have incomparably difficult circumstances that no one in the whole wide world can have.

We have witnessed some people who lost both their arms and legs but are still living healthily and happily, and even travel around the world to inspire others to live just like them. Then what do circumstances really mean? Circumstances mean “the environment” and that’s all. Whatever environment that we are born with – mountain, plain, stormy areas, tiger-infested areas – we still have to overcome them. Highly successful people, in fact, face more challenges than others, as they have to fight against hundreds of different types of battles to win. Blaming the circumstances is actually just another way of not believing in yourself, and it is equally ranked with the “number one killer”.

George Bernard Shaw, a famous educator, said: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.”

* A special circumstance that we usually face is “failure”. We tend to lose our self-confidence after several instances of failure. Failing several entrance exams to some schools makes us believe that we have no capabilities. Failure in doing business once or twice can make us believe that “business is not my destiny”. In fact, successful people fail the most. People only know them the moment they are already in the spotlight, yet how many are aware of the numerous times when they are black and blue, ragged and tattered all over?

Michael Jordan, the best basketball player in the history of basketball of the world, said: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been entrusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

3. Persistence in overcoming negativity from other people:

Richard St. John calls this “crap” and he has made CRAP an acronym for: criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure.

Why are there so many people doing weird things? Stupid? Jealous? Sick?

I mind my own business, why do you keep talking me out of it and disturbing me?

I think the reason for them doing so is fear. Negative people are very scared of people around them being successful, as the success of people who are close and share the same circumstances with them brings out their weaknesses more clearly.  The question of why positive people, no matter what they do, are always disturbed and sabotaged by negative people, can be answered by you yourself. I don’t have to be so wordy here.

The important point to be emphasized is: “As soon as you have a new idea, you become the one-person minority group”. Thus, as a matter of course, you face oppositions from many people.

Another point to keep in mind is that those who work are usually in the rank of masters, just like a very experienced builder; but those who criticize and sabotage do not have to know anything; they are probably completely stupid, totally inexperienced, entirely irresponsible, just like the one who destroys the building with his hammer. Hard to build, easy to destroy.

Yet for positive people, it will be very amusing to let such childish people discourage them, won’t it? Nevertheless, how many times in life have you observed countless people give up because of the fear of “being criticized” or “being laughed at”. This is also ranked as the number one killer.

Fortunately, these negatives themselves work well as a filter. Those who are weak-minded will be discharged, and those who are strong-willed will be retained. That is why there are always fewer successful people than unsuccessful ones in any society.

To end this entry, let me share with all of you Calvin Coolidge (the 30th President of the United States)’s saying: “Nothing in the 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. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the problems of the human race.

Wish you all a good day.



(Vietnamese link:

Một suy nghĩ 9 thoughts on “The Number-One Cause for Success: Persistence”

  1. Chị Huyền Vân dịch, nên em cảm ơn chị Huyền Vân nữa ạ. Thật sự là đọc tiếng anh xúc tích và dễ nhớ hơn Tiếng Việt. Nên thời gian tới, nếu có điều kiện, em cũng sẽ cố gắng tham gia dịch các bài viết tâm đắc cho Dotchuoinon.

    Số lượt thích

  2. Hi anh Hoành và chị Huyền Vân,

    Em cũng nghĩ bài dịch tiếng Anh của chị Huyền Vân rất súc tích và dễ đọc a, và tất nhiên là nhờ bài nguyên bản của anh Hoành đã tốt sẵn rồi. Em cũng muốn tham gia dịch một vài bài viết trên ĐCN khi có cơ hội 🙂

    Anh Hoành lúc nào cũng nêu ra được những ”sự thật cuộc sống” trong các lí thuyết dạy của mình cả, và điều đó giúp người đọc thấy những điều anh dạy gần gũi và thực tế hơn. Riêng trong bài viết encouraging này giúp người như em thấy lạc quan hơn về việc mình có thể thành công nếu đủ cố gắng và kiên trì, dù mình chẳng tài giỏi gì cả, cảm ơn anh Hoành nhiều a!

    Số lượt thích

  3. Thank you very much, Khanh Hoa. Yes, after a while keep reading Dotchuoinon everyday, I am so grateful of how positive thinking can really change my life that it makes me genuinely want to give something back, and sharing it with non-Vietnamese speaking people is something that I’m really serious about.

    I will work on it. And it’ll be great if all of us will do this together!

    Số lượt thích

  4. Dot chuoi non is a useful website and by accidentally, i have found that.
    Reading this article, I saw myself inside and how negative i have been in my life. Thanks Mr. Hoanh so much for sharing your own ideas with me. By this way, we can widen our knowledge and life experience more so as to develop us into the good person in life.
    Dang Pham Minh Dung

    Số lượt thích

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