Monday, 23 May 2016

The benefit of persistence

I remember just prior to Christmas 2013 I was in the car listening to ‘Afternoons with Jim Mora’ on National Radio. Mora interviewed Ginny Blackmore, an up and coming young New Zealand singer songwriter. Aside from the quality of her music, I was particularly struck by her description of her journey to 2013. All she wanted to do was write music, and so she left school early, her parents giving their permission on the proviso that she wrote music full time (quite an act of faith from the parents, I thought). Her ‘overnight success’ took over three years and there she was (at the time of the interview) having just secured a recording deal with a major record company in Los Angeles.

This is something I often see. Success is most often found when we follow our passions. I have seen it with my own children and I see it often with teenagers more generally. When asked to give advice on subject choices, we go through the usual issues of aligning subject choices to possible future career choices, but we should also ask what there is in our children's mix of subject choices that ‘spins her/his wheels’? It is a long day at school if there is nothing in the day about which you could be enthusiastic.

Art Costa, an American writer, established what he described as the 'Habits of Mind', a set of 16 habits of 'dispositions' that seem to be common to successful people regardless of culture or age, and regardless of the activity they pursue in life. One of these is persistence, the ability to stick with a task until complete, until you find success. Art Costa’s ‘Persistence’ is perhaps no better illustrated than in Blackmore’s example. Ginny Blackmore knew what she wanted to do, and stuck at it. She sat in her bedroom day after day, working an eight hour day by all accounts, building a body of material that she could take to the world.

You can find Jim Mora’s interview here:

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