Determination

 

"Now remember, when things look bad and it looks like you're not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. 'Cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That's just the way it is."

Josey Wales

 

You climb a mountain one sep at a time

Mountains are climbed one step at a time!

Determination is a key attribute sought after by recruiters of graduates and for many roles can be more important than sheer intelligence. It is sometimes referred to as drive: "the determination to get things done, to make things happen & constantly to look for better ways of doing things." It comes sixth in our list of the top ten skills that employers want.

It is assessed on application forms and at interview by asking you questions abut when you faced up to a challenge or a significant achievement in your life. Sometimes your interests can show evidence of this: mountain climbing, marathon running or major sporting achievements may strongly suggest the drive to succeed, but also learning to play a musical instrument to grade 8 or to reach black belt in a martial art could also be evidence for substantial determination. A vacation sales job in which you substantially exceeded your targets could also be seen as evidence.

Determination is closely associated with resilience: the ability to bounce back from setbacks, rather than giving up. When the going gets tough, the tough get going! Perseverance and persistence are also highly related.

 

We are more likely to persevere if we think talent is only peripheral to our future achievements. It requires about 10,000 hours or 10 years of serious practice and sustained effort to get to the  top in any sport and the same applies also in the Arts and Sciences: a long persistence of deliberate effort is more important than talent.

The natural impulse of men is to follow and whoever has the strongest sense of purpose will always dominate the rest. 

Robert Harris, Pompeii

Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm

Winston Churchill

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.

Abraham Lincoln

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people 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.

Calvin Coolidge

The man who succeeds above his fellows is the one who early in life discerns his object and towards that object habitually directs his powers. Even genius itself is but fine observation strengthened by fixity of purpose.

Edward Bulwer-Lytton

If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.

Thomas Edison

Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. 

Abraham Lincoln

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Churchill

Motivation gets you started but habit keeps you going.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.

Churchill

I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance.

John D. Rockefeller

Genius is one percent inspiration, and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

"Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures."

Barack Obama.

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.
The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.
When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade

Dale Carnegie.

Observing the lives of those who have mastered adversity have established goals and sought with all their effort to achieve them. From the moment they decided to concentrate all their energies on a specific objective, they began to surmount the most difficult odds.

Dr Ari Kiev

When the wind of change blows some build walls, the wise build windmills.

Chinese proverb

"Sometimes, when you fall, you fly."

Neil Gaiman

This Japanese proverb "Nana korobi ya oki" (literally: seven falls, eight getting up) means fall down seven times and get up eight. This speaks to the Japanese concept of resilience. No matter how many times you get knocked down, you get up again.

Daniel Garr - Presentation Zen

The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge, while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.

Don Juan quoted by Carlos Castaneda

“Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.”

Benjamin Franklin

A calm sea never made a skillful sailor

The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me.

Ayn Rand

People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

Winnie the Pooh

"Those who believed that their performance was transformable through effort, not only persevered but actually improved in the teeth of difficulties, whereas those labouring under the talent myth regressed."

Ordinary adults have a strong ability to change with practice, but if you have a fixed mind set, you don’t think you can improve your intelligence, you will probably not improve.

The region of the brain responsible for controlling fingers in young musicians grew in direct proportion to the number of years training. Purposeful practice builds new neural connections in your brain, so you can improve aspects of your "intelligence" with practice.

From the excellent book "Bounce" by Michael Syed

Resilience, the ability to bounce back from setbacks, is a major attribute of determined individuals. According to Heather Hiles CEO of Pathbrite the five key components of resilience are optimism, empathy, emotional intelligence, trust and perseverance. She says that "The ability to both respond to and embrace change is at the very heart of resilience."

See Female students ‘with resilience’ perform better than men

 

 

The value of failure

What is the secret of success?
Right decisions.
How do you make right decisions?
Experience
How do you gain experience?
Wrong decisions

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (former President of India)

There is the old saying that a challenge is an opportunity, not a threat and we need to see failure as a chance to learn new ways of doing things.

Theodore Roosevelt said: "The man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything." and it's true that often the most powerful way to learn how to do something right is to initially fail: we learn from our mistakes.

"The fear of making a mistake, of risking an error, or of being told you are wrong is constantly with us. And that’s a shame. Making mistakes is not the same thing as being creative, but if you are not willing to make mistakes, then it is impossible to be truly creative. I f your state of mind is coming from a place of fear and risk avoidance, then you will always settle for the safe solutions—the solutions already applied many times before.

Failing is fine, necessary in fact. But avoiding experimentation or risk—especially out of fear of what others may think—is something that will gnaw at your gut more than any ephemeral failure. A failure is in the past. It’s done and over. In fact, it doesn’t exist. But worrying about “what might be if…” or “what might have been if I had… ” are pieces of baggage you carry around daily. They’re heavy, and they’ll kill your creative spirit. Take chances and stretch yourself. You’re only here on this planet once, and for a very short time at that. Why not just see how gifted you are?"

Daniel Garr - Presentation Zen

"If you make the wrong decision, it's never too late to make the right one"

Michael Oher

 

“If you give people freedom, they will amaze you. Get out of their way and they will do the right thing 99% of the time.They’ll do remarkable things and all you need to do is give them a little infrastructure and a lot of room to change the world. And I think that holds in any industry.”

At Google, “Failure is celebrated. It’s ok to fail, and that is culturally encouraged. We just want people to fail fast, so that they don’t get stuck doing the wrong thing for too long because they are afraid to admit that it is not working. So failure, is encouraged – obviously we don’t want people to be constantly failing – but I think its culturally ok to admit your mistakes, say that didn’t work and move on to the next thing."

Aimee O’Malley, Google at CIPD Annual Conference

 

How I became a manager

People who do lots of work...
Make lots of mistakes

People who do less work...
Make less mistakes

People who do no work...
Make no mistakes

People who make no mistakes...
Get promoted!


A positive outlook

Henry Ford said: "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're absolutely right." and the latest research on this has suggested he is correct. Professor Suzanne Segerstrom, University of Kentucky found that when optimists encounter a setback they are less likely than pessimists to just give up.

Professor Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania found that people who believed that they could achieve a certain goal did so in 80% of cases whereas people who did not believe they could achieve their goal only achieved t 20% of the time. But a positive attitude requires practise, just as you become unfit if you don't exercise regularly. We grow the garden of our own reality with thought-seeds. If we wish to grow flowers instead of weeds we must attend to our thoughts.

 

Taking Action

To keep your determination high, it is important to set yourself goals that are stretching but attainable and challenging but realistic. 90% of all research on setting goals have shown a positive effect on performance.

Life satisfaction is greatest for those who have short term goals which are enjoyable, not too difficult; and done in cooperation with others. The most satisfaction comes from pursuing a goal, not from ultimately achieving it.

"Develop persistence: don't take no for an answer": this is the advice of a creative director at a top advertising agency.

In his final year he applied for graduate training schemes with all the top advertising agencies but found that no one was interested as he was heading for a lower second class degree. After lots of rejections he decided to email lots of agencies but was devastated when he got no response. So he decided to phone the agencies but couldn't get past the receptionist.

After this setback he thought a lot and decided that the only path left open to him was to visit the agencies in person. He made a list of all the agencies within reasonable traveling distance and spent the next week going round them and asking for some unpaid work experience. Again the same problem: everywhere he visited the receptionist said that everyone was too busy to see him. He was finally on the point of giving up on his dream.

He decided to give it one final throw of the dice.

He decided to go back to the agency he most admired. He arrived early in the morning and asked the receptionist if he could talk to one of the managers about the possibility of getting some work experience with the agency. The receptionist said that this wasn't possible, as he knew she would. So he sat down in the reception area and refused to leave until someone saw him.

Late in the afternoon, the receptionist whom he had got to know quite well during the day and who had taken a liking to him rang one of the managers, explaining the situation and asking her if she could come down have a very brief chat with him. After hearing his story, the manager took pity on him and told him she could offer him just a few days work experience but nothing more.

At 7.30 when the doors opened on Monday he was standing outside and that week he was always the first into the office and the last too leave at night. No task was too menial for him and he put one hundred percent into everything he was given to do. The manager was so impressed that she offered him a temporary job at the minimum wage.

He never left ....

You need to focus on one objective at a time and always have the next goal in mind. To accomplish more difficult tasks, break these down into components. Try to have mini goals on-route and try to map out several paths to your target: this allows flexibility if one route becomes blocked. Activity itself generates the impetus for further activity.

For more about this, see our Action Planning page

 

 

Should you praise people for effort or intelligence?

Carol Dweck of Columbia University did seminal research on motivation. She divided school children into two groups who were given a test. After the test, half the students were praised for their intelligence and the others for the effort they had put into the test ("You have worked really hard").

The children were then given the choice of doing another harder test or an easier one. The children praised for intelligence chose the easier test, as they didn't want to risk failure as they might look bad if they failed: they avoided challenging situations. The children praised for effort chose the harder test: they weren't interested in success, but in facing a challenge. They wanted to show how hard-working they were. They also worked much longer at the test , enjoyed it more and didn't lose confidence.

Praising intelligence damages motivation and performance and teaches people to pursue easy challenges rather than to learn.

Praise effort not ability: "You must have worked really hard to get that score". Ask them what parts they enjoyed most and how they dealt with any problems that arose. Focus on effort, concentration and organisational skills, for example, the ability to train hard and work well with others in a sporting situation. Say "You played well today" rather than "You are good at cricket". 

In another study on two groups of children doing homework, one group was promised a medal as a reward and the other group was given nothing. The children given the medal spent less time on the work. The reasoning was that "adults offer rewards when they want me to do something I don't enjoy so I must not like doing it!" Rewards reduced the enjoyment and demotivated them. Instead praise their effort or give an occasional small surprise reward after completion.

 

Typical question of the type asked by recruiters to gain evidence that you have determination

 

Describe a situation when you showed determination in facing up to a challenge

   
     

A Good Answer

I knew that I wanted a year out in Africa and that I did not just want to travel but also to share in the life of the country and its people. Teaching gave me such an opportunity to put down roots in a community but, as this was a voluntary programme, I needed to raise £2000 in order to take part in this project. I did this by working very long hours in a factory over the summer to raise the funds that I needed.

   
  Demonstrates determination
I planned my year by reading a great deal about Tanzania, using websites to research the country & speaking to Tanzanian students at the university. I also asked the organisation that arranged the placement to put me in touch with previous volunteers so that I could pick up tips from them on life in Tanzania, the schools & what I should take with me.   Evidence of careful planning and forward thinking.
Despite all this planning I still found that I needed to be very flexible & to adapt to teaching a class of 60 lively ten-year old boys with few text books & even less in the way of scientific equipment. I had to adapt to this lack of resources & to bear in mind that the pupils were learning English at the same time as they were learning science.
  Shows adaptability
This experience was the most satisfying of my life and the headmaster was so pleased with the children's progress that he asked if I would be able to return at sometime in the future.

 

Barefoot to America

"My mother did not know where America was. I said to her, "Mother, I want to go to America to go to college. Will you give me your permission?" "Very well," she said. "You may go. When will you leave?" I did not want to give her time to discover how far away America was, for fear that she would change her mind. "Tomorrow," I said. "1 will prepare some maize for you to eat along the way," she said. Next day I left my home in Nyasaland, East Africa. I had only the clothes I wore, a khaki shirt and shorts. I carried the two treasures I owned: a Bible and a copy of Pilgrim's Progress. I carried, too, the maize my mother had given me, wrapped in banana leaves

My goal was a continent and an ocean away, but I did not doubt that I would reach it. I had no idea how old I was. Such things mean little in a land where time is always the same. I suppose I was 16 or 18. My father died when I was very young. From missionaries I learned I was not the victim of circumstances but the master of them. I learned that I had an obligation to use whatever talents I had to make life better for others. And to do that I would need education. I learned about America. I read the life of Abraham Lincoln and grew to love this man who suffered so much to help the enslaved in his country. I read, too, the autobiography of Booker T. Washington, himself born in slavery in America, and who had risen in dignity and honour to become a benefactor of his people and his country. I gradually realized that in America I could receive the training and opportunities to prepare myself to emulate these men in my own land, to be, like them, a leader, perhaps even the president of my country.

My intention was to make my way to Cairo, where I hoped to get passage on a ship to America. Cairo was over 3,000 miles away, a distance I could not comprehend, and I foolishly thought I could walk it in four or five days. But in four or five days I was about 25 miles from home, my food was gone, I had no money, and I did not know what to do, except that I must keep going. I developed a pattern of travel that became my life for more than a year. Villages were usually five or six miles apart, on forest paths. I would arrive at one in the afternoon and ask if I could work to earn food, water and a place to sleep. When this was possible, 1 would spend the night there, then move on to the next village in the morning. I was actually defenceless against the forest animals I dreaded, but although I heard them at night none of them approached me. Malaria mosquitoes, however, were constant companions, and I often was sick.

By the end of a year 1 had walked 1,000 miles and had arrived in Uganda, where a family took me in and I found a job making bricks. I remained there six months and sent most of my earnings to my mother. In Kampala, I unexpectedly came upon a directory of American colleges. Opening it at random, I saw the name of Skagit Valley College, Mount Vernon, Washington. I had heard that American colleges sometimes give scholarships to deserving young people, so I wrote and applied for one. I realized that I might be refused but was not discouraged; I would write to one school after another in the directory until I found one that would help me.

Three weeks later I was granted a scholarship and assured that the school would help me find a job. Overjoyed, I went to the United States authorities, only to be told that this was not enough. I would need a passport and the round-trip fare in order to obtain a visa. I wrote to my government for a passport but it was refused because I could not tell them when I was born. I then wrote to the missionaries who had taught me in my childhood, and through their efforts was granted a passport. But I still could not get the visa because I did not have the fare. Still determined, I resumed my journey. So strong was my faith that I used my last money to buy my first pair of shoes; I knew I could not walk into college in my bare feet. I carried the shoes to save them.

Across Uganda and into the Sudan I walked. The villages were farther apart and the people were less friendly. Sometimes I had to walk 20 or 30 miles in a day to find a place to sleep or to work to earn some food. At last I reached Khartoum, where I learned that there was a United States consulate. Once again I heard about the US entrance requirements, but this time the Consul was interested enough to write to the college about my plight. Back came a cable. The students, hearing about me and my problems, had raised the fare of $1,700 through benefit parties. I was thrilled and deeply grateful, - overjoyed that I had judged Americans correctly for their friendship and brotherhood. News that I had walked for over two years and 2,500 miles circulated in Khartoum.

After many, many months, carrying my two books and wearing my first suit, I arrived at Skagit Valley College. In my speech of gratitude to the student body I disclosed my desire to become prime minister or president of my country, and I noticed some smiles. I wondered if I had said something naive. I do not think so. When God has put an impossible dream in your heart, He means to help you fulfil it. I believed this to be true when as an African bush boy, I felt compelled to become an American college graduate. And my dream of becoming president of my country can also become true."

Legson Kyira - I Will Try

 

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