Preparation and Perseverance – Keys to Success

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Christopher R. Huisman
  • 315th Training Squadron Commander
"The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes"
- Benjamin Disraeli
"Success flourishes only in perseverance - ceaseless, restless perseverance"
- Baron Manfred von Richthofen
What's the trait that world class athletes, professional musicians, statesmen, and great military tacticians all have common? While talent, physical coordination, and intelligence are important; what separates the good from the truly great is perseverance and the drive to prepare. Whether seizing a split second opening in aerial combat like the Red Baron or a political opportunity like British Prime Minister Disraeli, preparation and perseverance will always prevail over talent.

Michael Jordan had the drive. At the beginning of every Chicago Bulls training camp, Coach Phil Jackson would ask each player for his personal goals, Jordan would always answer last and he would always reply, "I have no individual goals. We play for one reason and that's to win the title. Practice is more important than the games, and I will practice when I'm hurt, when 95 percent of the players in this league would sit out. I expect all of you to do the same thing. You will follow my lead."

Grammy Award winning jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis had the drive. "I would practice every day for four or five hours a day, or three hours, just to continue. If you practice for four or five months, you reach the point where you don't feel like practicing anymore. You might say, 'I practiced for four months, and I'm not really that much better.' And, you want to quit. But, I would just keep practicing, even on the days I didn't want to play. I would listen to trumpet players all the time, and I just fell in love with playing, from the time I was a freshman or sophomore in high school."

Winston Churchill understood perseverance. After nearly 30 years in British politics, in 1931 Churchill found himself out of political office and out of favor with the politics of the time. However, seeing the dangers of the Nazis who were taking power in Germany, Churchill was one of the first outspoken critics of allowing the Germans to rearm. Sticking to his principals as the Nazis began their takeover of Europe throughout the rest of the 1930s Churchill continued to speak out against the Nazis. In May 1940, as the British Army retreated across France after the initial campaigns in Western Europe failed, fate handed Churchill his opportunity when he became Prime Minister and rallied the British people to eventual victory.

It's not just world class athletes, professional musicians or statesmen that reach success with preparation and perseverance. Ultimately, any worthy goal worth achieving requires these traits. Whether it's being promoted to the next rank, passing your next PT test, or passing the next progress check in your initial skills training course, I guarantee you that preparation and perseverance will help you achieve your goals.