Five Keys To Persistence

I am Devon Harris and welcome to Keep On Pushing radio. Our intention is to provide you with information that will inspire you……information that will challenge you to strive to reach your full potential and thus live your best lifeYeah man….we want to encourage and empower you to become the best you possible

So if that sounds like something you are interested in…..then you are in the right place

Former president of the United Staes Calvin Coolidge said this ….

“Nothing in this 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.”

Now, I share that quote because today I want to spend some time speaking to you about this most important quality that beyond a shadow of a doubt impacts the extent to which any of us succeed.

And yes, you probably guessed that the quality I am referring to is persistence and in fact today, I would like to share some thoughts with you on the five keys to persistence…….. the five keys to persistence.

As I said just a few seconds ago……. Persistence is definitely one of the important factors affecting your success and these 5 keys I believe will help you to be more persistent and far more likely to reach your goals.

Look friends….We live in what I like to call the microwave society. We hear so much about the overnight success….those people who seem to come out of nowhere to become huge success

Strangely enough many of us have come to believe that that’s how success works…it kind just happens overnight.

I wish it were that easy… have to develop the quality of persistence……the ability to keep on pushing….the ability to continue steadily no matter how difficult it gets.

I recently came across an article about Tilman Fertitta. Forbes calls him the “World’s Richest Restaurateur” He is the the chairman, CEO and sole owner of Landry’s, Inc., one of the nation’s largest restaurant corporations. Properties include Morton Steakhouse, Rainforest Cafe and and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company

Needless to say that success didn’t happen overnight……..he spent many years building his business empire

“ I could have throw in the towel many times in the beginning” he said in a recent interview

“It’s never been easy” —he continues…… “myself and my team, we’ve always fought through every issue,”

And he also told us..….

“The biggest mistake that people make is they give up too soon, and they throw in the towel”

Back in 1987 when I started bobsledding, I discovered motivational books and since then, they have become my favorite books to read.

One of the first books I read was Think and grow rich by Napoleon Hill and one of my favorite stories from that book is entitled “Three feet from gold.

It is the story about a man who had got caught up by the “gold rush” idea and went west to dig and seek his fortune. After weeks of labor, he was rewarded by the discovery of some shiny gold nuggets but he needed machinery to bring it all to the surface. With the help of friends and relatives, he was able to raise enough money to purchase the equipment he needed.

He soon kicked his mining operation in full gear. The first round of mining brought the group some money but it wasn’t enough to clear the debts and begin making a profit. Encouraged by the early success, they continued drilling but to their dismay, could not find any more gold. After exhaustive, frustrating efforts, they decided to quit….selling their expensive machinery to a junk man for a few hundred dollars.

The junk man called in a mining engineer to do a review. The engineer’s calculations showed that the vein of ore could be found just three feet from where the group had stopped drilling. And guess what? …..that’s exactly where it was found! Three feet from where they stopped. This guy could have struck it rich, could have realized his dreams, could have reaped the fruits of all his hard work but he gave up…. And as it turned out….he had stopped only three feet from success

Think about it, isn’t that the worst part about giving up?

You could have been so close! Success could have been just around the corner, behind the next hill…or only three feet away BUT YOU GAVE UP!

When I was training to qualify for my third Olympic Games….as usual we were struggling to find funding. I remember it clearly……January 1997, I was in Calgary, Canada and the coach told me that if I didn’t find funding by June, I should quit. According to him I’d be chasing pipe dreams.

I agreed with him because I was so sure that June would have come but I would have had my sponsorship and so the entire Conversation would have been irrelevant. Well, what do you know? June came and I didn’t have the first dime. So did I quit? Of course not

At the time my right knee was swollen 1.5 times its original size….I had a torn meniscus and arthritis. But I would train 8 hrs a day, coach myself and deliver pizza at night just to keep the dream a live. Long story shot. I signed a sponsor 3 weeks before it was time to leave for Nagano. I am a 3-time Olympian because unlike that guy with the mining equipment, I did not quit when all seemed loss. Whether 3 feet or 3 weeks, you have to find a way to summon the staying power…the persistence……the perseverance……the endurance. Successful people are not necessarily smarter or more talented than their not so successful counterparts…….they have just found a way to keep on pushing until they achieved their goals.

So these keys that I am going to share with you in this podcast….keys that by the way…. I believe you really need to know….are going to help you to tap into this power you have inside to fight through the issues and the challenges……..keep going until your goal is reached. These keys are about diligence. They are about doggedness. They are about steadfastness.

People are always asking about my Olympic experiences How difficult was it to make it to the Olympics? They ask me, “Devon what did it feel like the moment you realized you were going to the Olympics?”

Well, I tell you it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. Like Tilman Fertitta said… team mates and I had to fight through a lot of challenges. We had to learn a sport that was totally alien to us in a very short period of time, we struggled with a lack of funding, we had to learn to cope with being outside in extreme cold temperatures, and that was the easy part.

And make no mistake, there were many times when we could have easily thrown in the towel….there were many times it seemed hopeless or felt overwhelming….the task just seemed daunting and we could have easily given up.

And I suppose someone looking on objectively could have looked on our situation and say, ”Yeah, what you guys are trying to do is literally impossible, it cannot be done. It was a nice thought but look forget about it……..nice try but try something else”

Fortunately for us we didn’t entertain any of those thoughts, We kept on pushing! We persisted man!

And you know what happens when you persist….when you keep on pushing towards your goals? You eventually get there!

One way or another… may not be easy… might not be fun at times……

But I tell you when you persist….when you push through those kinds of challenges and reach your goal like we did ……competing in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary….the exhilaration and the sense of accomplishment you feel is almost indescribable. Those moments make you realize …in fact reaffirm that finding a way to push through the challenges was all worth it.

Today there are some folks who say I am living a dream life…….kinda the stuff that movies are made of….

I am a three-time Olympian……there has been a successful movie made about my life…..or at least part of it……. and since my time on the slopes, I have become an author, and highly sought after motivational keynote speaker who travels and speaks to fortune 100 companies internationally

But I want to take you back……… figuratively of course, to a time long before now…….. but in the process …..I want to demonstrate to you the amazing difference persistence can make in your own life.

Now, look, no matter where you are right now, understand that what I am about to share with you next is where I started. And while your story and your journey maybe somewhat similar or could be very different from mine, the principles are still relevant….these five keys are still applicable to your life!

My journey began in one of the intercity communities in Kingston, Jamaica—a place called Olympic Gardens. Sounds like a fitting place for a future Olympic to have grown up does’t it?

Olympic Gardens at the time ……in fact still is one of the toughest ghettos in the world. And back in the late 70’s ….early 80’s is when it started its downward spiral. At the time Jamaica was experiencing a lot of political turmoil and instability and communities like Olympic Gardens became rife with violence and to be sure it was impoverished.

And you know the typical stories that come out of neighborhoods like mine?Many of the guys I grew up literally went down the wrong path and just ended up in a world of trouble. I was fortunate though……I was able to stay focused…graduate from High school….enlisted in the Jamaica Defence Force as an officer and shortly afterwards attended and graduate from the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England. If you are not familiar with Sandhurst…..its the British equivalent of West Point…..the school of Winston Churchhill, Feild Marshall Montgomer, King Hussein of Jordan, the princes William and Harry graduated a few years ago.

I served in the JDF for 8 yrs retiring as a captain in 1992. And it was while serving in the JDF that I was able to try out for and got selected to Jamaica’s first Olympic Bobsled team which as you know competed in Calgary, Canada. I also competed in the 1992 and 1998 Games and yes today, I have written a couple of books and travel internationally as a motivational keynote speaker. Certainly one of the things I am most proud of is the creation of the Keep On Pushing Foundation. Our goal is to provide practical solutions to some of the issues that are preventing kids in disadvantaged communities from getting properly educated. To that end, we support a breakfast program in my old primary school and a school’s supplies program in about 10 schools in the old neighborhood.

And I am telling you all of this because I want you to understand what is really possible in your life as well.

How did this all happen? I am asked all the time, “Devon, how did all of this come about?

Good question?

I think you will find the answer in what I am about to share with you right now, these 5 keys to persistence

that you can apply to your life because everybody deserves the success that they seek


They say, If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. That is why you need a dream… need a definite destination on which you can focus. You need something that is clear and precise ….something that you can strive towards… and having a dream does exactly that!

Because it causes you to stretch beyond your current circumstances….whatever those might be.

And when it gets tough….when it gets difficult having that goal in front of you is like having a carrot dangling on a stick in front of you—it gives you something something to reach for.

In a minute, we’ll speak about why that is but here is the challenge for most people……

They are at best fuzzy about what they want to achieve. In fact, some people are great at defining what they DO NOT want. They have no clue about what they really want but they are very clear on what they don’t want and I am telling you man, that has absolutely no power in it. That can’t push you or pull you out of and away from your current circumstances……it can’t get you over the inevitable bumps in the road.

Also, through your dreams… are able to create a vision….and what is that?

Your vision is a compelling image of that which you aspire to become or have or create. In other words….your vision articulates your greatest ambitions.

Vision gives you hope of something better around the corner.

I like to use the imagery of a lighthouse to describe our vision.

Our vision is like a lighthouse… acts as a guiding light…… a beacon that lead us to through storms and rocky terrain towards our destination.

Believe me when I tell you though, no matter how tough today gets, we can all deal with it if we have a compelling vision of tomorrow

So, yes….the first key to success is to have a dream


Successful people are motivated in such a way that they are able to use all the unlimited, untapped resources they have on the inside to create something incredible with the limited resources they have on the outside.

Many people have the wrong concept about motivation. They sit there waiting for the guy or girl to come and turn them on, get them fired up. And all that sounds well and good but let me ask you?… What if they don’t turn up? What happens then?

Now look, I agree that there are times when we do feel a little low.

All of us get into a funk sometimes and we need a word of encouragement from someone else…a little emotional pick me up, if you will…..BUT the thing I want you to understand is that motivation, real motivation comes from within. It is that innate, intrinsic power that comes from within you.

As I said earlier, it is not the burst of energy you get after someone gives you a word or two of encouragement.

Real motivation flows naturally from having a dream.

So, what is motivation…..well if you take a look at the word itself “Motivation” you will realize that it is actually a contraction of two words….”motive” and “action”

So, once you have identified your dreams….once you have crafted your vision….what is your motive for action in other words what are the reasons why?

What are the reasons why these goals and dreams are important to you……why do you want to transform this vision into your reality?

It is important to identify those reasons and to tap into them because that is what is going to drive you relentlessly. That is the carrot on the stick that is going to give the drive to keep on pushing no matter how difficult it gets

I don’t think most people get it man……most people don’t understand how difficult it is to follow your dream. They tend to think it is a linear path to get them to their goals……its a straight line from where they are to where they want to be but I assure you it is not.

It is a journey that is filled with twists and turns and peaks and valleys and setbacks, frustrations and outright failures.

And it is your motivation….your reasons for action that will take you through so again, make the effort to identify and tap into those reasons….those motives for action.

So you need to have a dream… need to me motivated and thirdly… need to take action. The third key to persistence is taking action

Take action

Success is borne of action.

Identifying your dream is a great start. Having a clear vision is wonderful but as the old Japanese proverbs states “vision without action is a daydream.”

You have to take action.

Tapping into the reasons your goals are important to you…..knowing your WHY puts you on the path to achieve practically anything you’d like to achieve BUT you have to take action.

Success doesn’t happen by sitting back and daydreaming. It doesn’t just happen by acquiring all the knowledge you can…you must take action.

Every significant achievement starts out as something that at first blush is way beyond our reach. Needless to say, this can be a very daunting proposition. If you keep focusing on the big picture and all the things you have to do in order to reach your goal, you could easily end up feeling overwhelmed and inclined to quit.

And of course if you just kinda sit there looking in dread at this mountain you will have to climb….then you are definitely stripping your ability to persist

When you do nothing, you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But as you take action, even tiny ones moving in the direction of your dreams, you begin to feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from know you are working to make things better.

Here’s what you have to remember…….. big dreams are accomplished by making consistent, incremental steps towards them. In order words you must take one baby step after another …. even when one of those steps by themselves may seem insignificant… you must keep taking them constantly.

When I was young and energetic…..or should I say, when I was younger and more energetic……I used to run so many miles per week,It would make Forest Gump look like an amateur. Some of those runs were challenging, exhausting and I would simply tell myself to just put one foot in front of the other.

Undoubtedly, it was tedious, it was painful but by simply putting one foot in front of the other….taking those steps consistently……I always reached my destination.

That is the key to you being able to be persistent and reaching your goals…putting one foot in front of the other…each small….baby steps will take you closer to your goal…..until you finally reach it.

That brings me to the next key—Attitude

So, you have to have a dream, you need motivation, you must take action and the fourth key to persistence is that you must have a positive can do attitude.


One of the things I enjoy most about the Olympics is to hear all of the incredible stories of all these incredible stories of these athletes.

That was the thing that at 15 years old inspired me more than anything to pursue this dream of becoming an Olympian.

The tremendous obstacles that many of them had to overcome in their personal lives is admirable by any standard but to do that and get to the Olympic Games is in many cases nothing short of miraculous. They did it because they developed an attitude of “how I can”” instead of “Why I can’t.“

They say that its not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you that is important. That is the important lesson I learnt about persistence all those years ago from learning the personal stories of those Olympians we all love to watch on Television and I want to pass it on to you and let you know that the same way these athletes….myself included were able to literally create miracles in our lives….you too….where-ever you are on your journey, regardless of past failure or current challenges….you too by developing a can do attitude can find a way to keep on pushing….through the process and over the obstacles to reach the pinnacle of your achievement.

Attitude is more important than facts, it is more important than the past, than education, than money , than circumstances than failures than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, than giftedness or skill.

All of those things were stacked up against me during my early days as i climbed way out of a Kingston Ghetto….that is very true about our team in 1988 but we made and you can too. WHY? Because the current that determines our dreams and shapes our lives flow from the attitude we nurture everyday.

That takes up to the fifth key to persistence, I would like to share with you is that you must have Faith


Many people believe that one of the most important things you need to succeed is resources—time, money, the cooperation of others, etc, —and yes all of those things are important but do you know what is even more important…by a 100 fold?


A knowing that you have everything you need, because all the resources are within you.

One of the our greatest personal resource you have is confidence—faith or a belief in yourself.

I really do believe you can get what you want in life and that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself, you can be as happy and successful as you want to be but you have to believe that it is possible for you and believe in your ability to get it done.

We are all born with the ability to surmount any challenge we may face. You were destined to win. You are designed to create in your own life…..the kinds of success and miracles that you see others creating in their’s but you must develop confidence in your abilities.

You see when you have faith, when you believe in your ability to achieve your goals—no matter how difficult or frustrating it gets…you will persist.

Think about it….why in the world would you persist if you didn’t believe you could do it?

But here is the thing……

The more you persist…..the more your confidence grows….the stronger your faith becomes ….the more confident you become!

And the more confident you become….the stronger your faith….the more you persist!

It is an upward spiral!

And I am telling you…..when you gain the reputation…..

When people say, “He will never quit….if he says he’s gonna do it…..consider it done!”

“If she says she’s gonna do it…..its money in the bank!”

When you gain that reputation…….your success is virtually guaranteed.

So that’s it folks!

Those are my five keys to persistence

If I was a gambling man, I’d bet that you already knew them so I am just reminding you of them….I am just turning your attention back to them ….getting you to take notice,

Having a dream: figuring out exactly where you want to go. what is it that you aspire to become, or create or have?

Identifying your motive for action: what is your why? What are the reasons that drive you…..that compel you that push you towards your dreams?

Taking action: remember you get power and develop a sense of hope from knowing that you are working to make things better. Also, it is only by taking action….by actually doing something, that you will be able to change your circumstances.

Developing a can do attitude: an attitude of how I can instead of why I can’t. It is about having a knowing that no matter what challenges you face; like all the successful ones have done in their lives-you too have the ability to prevail.

and finally

Having confidence: your greatest personal resource.

These are practical steps. These are not deep philosophical concepts that you have to ponder over, or meditate upon. These are things that you can apply to your life this very instant

if you shoot for the stars and you only hit the moon—you are still successful.

Not everybody is going to reach the Olympics or even have a movie made about their life but you can achieve a lot more in your life if you follow these five keys.

And it doesn’t take long for you to start reaping the benefits…..for you to start building those persistence muscles and work your way to the life of your dreams.

I am Devon Harris

As always,

Keep On Pushing!

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