My little dog was victim to a car accident last week. My mother was trying to park her car when it ran across in its attempt to chase a cat and got one of it’s legs caught by one of the wheel and as a result, its front paw was crushed by the wheel. It let out a very faint shriek. Now, my dog never misses an opportunity to bark at every car passing through our house. It was, truthfully, extremely loud and annoying at times. Thankfully, my mother sensed that something was odd due to the unusually quiet surroundings. She stopped the car, backed off a little and got out of the car. She found it whimpering next to the wheel and was bleeding badly.
My mother, not knowing what to do, took it inside and it limped to a corner, hiding behind our power generator. My mom waited until my father arrives home to tend its leg and bandage the wound. For the next one week and a half, I enjoyed what were really quiet days as it didn’t have the energy to even bark out, or walk on its own. Apparently, when it barks, it would felt pain at the wound. Yet, as the wound slowly healed and got better, it began to bark a little more frequently and a little louder each time. It seems that it kept trying to push the limits just a little bit further with each attempt to see how loud it can bark and still felt minimal pain. At the moment, though still limping around, the leg is almost completely healed and it is able to bark louder now. As I was observing its behaviour and how it copes and adapts to its temporary condition, I noticed a few lessons that we can learn from it. I hope you will pardon my illustration.
1. Focus on persevering, not on complaining, or blaming
We somehow respond the way my dog did in times of pain and suffering. We faced hardships and unexpected challenge come up against us even though we did our best and tried to stay on course. Yet, things happened that are outside of our control and somehow, we find ourselves bleeding and in great agony. My dog was unable to complain or blame anyone for the condition it is in. But, for a lot of us, it is something that we do almost instinctively. It is perhaps, one of the most basic defensive mechanism or fault-evasion method we have, one that needs no practice or training. Somehow and for unknown reason, we are all extremely good at it. There is a good news though.
2. Focus on tackling the issue, not crying over spilled beans
For a lot of us, we eventually come to the conclusion that we have no choice but to move on and face the hardships head-on. We understand that perseverance is the most essential quality towards reaching our goals in life. For example, we would have lost a sports game at some point in the past. Or flunking an exam. Or losing in a game with friends. Perseverance taught us to try again. Perseverance taught us to get back up. Often, however, the realization came too late. Perhaps, the new opportunity has passed by. Or perhaps someone else has decided to move on just a bit earlier. I am sure none of us wanted to be in the position of the former. We all wants to be the ‘someone else’ who has moved on earlier and thus earn maximum benefits.
3. Focus on the goal to be achieved, not the pain to be endured
We felt great pain in our attempt to get back up, yet we kept trying again and perhaps somehow the pain that was initially unbearable may actually turn out to be much more bearable. That is a very similar and unique mechanism of the way our nervous system work. What began as a painful sensation, if experienced over and over again, over-time became less painful, until it felt just like a normal prick, to the point that we might not even sense it anymore. This is why soldiers in the warzone and in the battlefield were able to continue fighting despite the wound they received, as they have been severely trained to withstand even the most terrible of pain. Such behaviour to keep going is good, although there we might overlook a fundamental problem.
4. Learn from the experience with a scientist mindset
The problem here is that some of us don’t learn from our failures or mistakes. For some of us, we attempted to do things the old way over and over again, somehow expecting different results. Whereas a scientist knows that an experiment ought to be done with differing condition each time. Einstein wisely advised us against doing so. We ought to learn from our past mistakes or failures and avoid making similar mistakes again. We ought to combine this never-say-die attitude with wisdom to learn from previous failures.
Perseverance is about learning how to keep on keeping on, despite having to go through the same agony of making yet more mistakes. Perseverance is about refusing to give up, demonstrate doggone tenacity and character of persistence. By applying the four simple principles above, I believe that we will be rewarded with success.