One of my favorite quotes regarding the Power of Persistence comes from Calvin Coolidge:

“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. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

My personal supplement to this quote would be to state that while nothing “in this world” can take the place of persistence, faithfully  pressing  on, working in harmony with The Power of The Almighty and cooperating with one’s prayers, will move mountains and overcome a multitude of challenges.


The notion that “what does not kill us  makes us stronger” may be found in the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and others. These kinds of quotes are often used by motivational speakers and others, (including me) to encourage people to bounce back from setbacks and overcome obstacles.

Is this idea really true…if  tragedies, losses and difficulties have not killed us, do we really become stronger? The short answer is “that depends.” And what does it depend upon?

First, let me offer an analogy. If we ingest poison that seriously debilitates us, but is not fatal, is the final result necessarily that we have become stronger? Of course not! We may in fact be severely impaired for the remainder of our lives.

On the other hand, a man named Bill Haast, Director of the Miami Serpentarium Laboratories, has built up an acquired immunity to certain serpents by injecting himself with gradually increasing quantities of venom he had extracted from his snakes.  However, even he  has suffered venom-caused tissue damage, culminating in the loss of a finger following a bite from a Malayan Pit Viper in 2004.

However, returning from the analogy, if one has experienced loss of a job, the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, relationship issues, natural disasters and any number of difficulties, it is human to be saddened, disappointed, in shock–and in reality many do not fully recover or “get stronger.” Others do. Why?

Earlier I said “it depends.” In large measure, it depends on attitude.

There are individuals who have been in major automobile accidents, who have had serious injuries, many setbacks, lengthy therapy — and yet they  persist, overcome and do become stronger; others may have a relatively minor “fender-bender,” and they react as if it were the end of the world.

Our attitude plays a major role in how our unfortunate circumstances ultimately pan out. I’ve often said, it’s not so much about what happens to us…it has more to do with how we choose to react to what happens.

The Bible declares,As a man thinks in his heart’ so is he,” (Proverbs 23:7).

The original Hebrew for the word think means  “to split or divide,” conveying the idea of choice. How we choose to react to our challenges…or even to the ordinary issues of our lives, will impact the outcome. If one chooses to be negative about one’s circumstances, in large measure we initiate a conspiracy against ourselves  to embrace misfortune; if one decides instead to have a positive, proactive, attitude, the results will be very different — often extraordinary.

Our circumstances alone do not determine who we are…our attitude is the more likely variable to determine who we may become.

John A. Fallone

One of my favorite quotes is the famous excerpt, The Man in the Arena, from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Citizenship in a Republic, which he delivered on April 23, 1910 at the University of Paris, Sorbonne:

“It is not the critic who counts…not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause

…who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Anyone who has spent considerable time and effort in any challenging human endeavor can relate to the idea of being “In the Arena.” Those of us in the business world who have pounded the pavement, flown countless thousands of miles to solve problems, offer solutions…or brave souls who serve in the military…or volunteers who help those in need…parents juggling multiple balls, caring for their children, working tirelessly in a stressful world — understand what it means to be in the arena — and then of course, there are always the critics.

As Roosevelt declares…critics are not the ones who count…on the other hand, those who serve others, lead others, educate others do strive valiantly; they may stumble…miss the mark; however, to dare greatly is to demonstrate courage; to merely stand on the sidelines – – outside of the arena and criticize, is in many respects cowardly. Failing while daring greatly is better than neither failing nor succeeding because one is not in the arena.