The Power of Perseverance

In one of his books, Malcolm Gladwell tells of a research project that was designed test the ability of elementary children to persevere when faced withj an impossible task.  Children from both the United States and Japan participated in the study.  Each child was given a task to solve a puzzle that couldn’t be solved.

Then the researchers timed how long each child struggled to find a solution before giving up.  The children from the United States averaged a little over 9 minutes before quitting.  But the kids from Japan stayed with the project over 50% longer, struggling on average a little over 14 minutes.  It appears that we in the US struggle with a short attention span, and it subtlety influences our kids.

Another interesting study I read some time ago interviewed almost 3,000 couples who reported they were very unhappy in their marriages.  Most, if not all of whom were considering divorce.  Five years later, the researchers went back and interviewed those who had participated in the original survey.  They found that of those who divorced, a statistically significant number still reported themselves as being unhappy, even though they were no longer married.

Those who had stayed married, however, at a statistically significant level, now said they were happy, both as an individual and as a couple.  It is a wonderful testimony to the power of perseverance.

The overwhelming favorite magazine in my waiting room is People Magazine.  I’ve talked with some of my clients as they sat in the waiting room and were reading a recent issue of “People.”  Many of them say they would never buy a copy, but they enjoyed reading the brief articles as they waited.  The magazine’s popularity has led to what is often called “The People Magazine Attention Span.”  We don’t have the patience to read an article if it is longer than two pages.

This can translate to a number of areas in our lives, including our marriages.  We have become an impatient culture.  As a result, we give up on things much too early.  When you consider the fact that divorce is so easy–it’s “no-fault”–and our perseverance quotient is so low, it’s no wonder our marriages are in trouble.

Question;  Think of a situation when you just gave up.  What could have happened if        you had used the power of perseverance.

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