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Take a moment and think of some great achievements. Scientific discoveries, engineering feats, athletic victories, wealth, business, service, philanthropy – any fields you like. What accomplishments do you admire most?

Now consider the characteristics of the people behind those achievements. What did they have in common? Superior intelligence? I doubt it. Access to capital? Try again. Good looks? Great education? Luck? Not likely.

Behind any great achievement you’ll find a person or people who didn’t quit. They may have been smart, or rich, or beautiful, or strong, or lucky. Or maybe they were none of those. But I bet they were persistent.

Anyone can set a goal. And anyone can have enthusiasm for that goal – for a while. But few choose to persist through setbacks, ridicule, failure, or overwhelming odds. Few can muster the mettle to carry on for years, or even decades, not knowing if they’ll ever prevail.

What about you? Do you have a fire burning within that fuels you toward your goal through all circumstances? Can you carry on when everyone expects you to fail, and you wonder if they’re right? Can you carry on like that for years? For the rest of your life?

Here’s an exercise.

  1. Complete this sentence: I will ____ or die trying.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Put it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
  4. Pursue it until you get there or die.

Figure out what you will do or die trying. Articulate it. Keep it on your mind. Do this and I bet you’ll find energy and guts you didn’t know you had.

Whenever you feel like quitting, ask yourself, “Am I dead?” If the answer is “No”, don’t.