Persistence is the dogged determination you have to complete what you strive for—the “never say die” attitude. This is a powerful quality for success because most worthwhile endeavours are difficult to achieve.
Enlightened persistence, on the other hand, is the ability to differentiate between what is worth persisting in and what is wiser to desist from pursuing. Enlightened persistence forces you to revisit your goals.
Enlightenment is a strong word—it implies the goal you are chasing is larger than yourself and will make a difference. Here are two simple examples of what happens when you persist in the wrong things:
You are climbing a very tall tree to pick some fruit. However, eventually, when you get to the top, you find out that you do not like the fruit because you were climbing the wrong tree. Many people chase goals for many years and eventually get there only to wonder why they were chasing these goals.
You are planning to go from Vancouver to Seattle, to the south, but have a map tracing the route to Whistler, north of Vancouver. You will not get to Seattle no matter how fast you go or how much you persist or how positively you think. You need to change your direction to reach your destination.
If you are persisting just for fame, you may end up climbing the wrong tree and not enjoying the fruits you get, or going in the wrong direction and ending up in a different location than you’d hoped. There are many examples of people who were famous but unhappy. If you read the biographies of some famous people, you will see tales of regret, betrayal, addiction, unhappiness and even bankruptcy.
Be clear about your goals, articulate them well and also check how they will enrich your life once achieved. As Socrates puts it, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”