What is your biggest dream? What is the number one breakthrough goal you have? What, if you achieve it, will cause the biggest result in your life? What will push you way up on the scoreboard of life?
There’s a bamboo plant the Chinese have been cultivating for centuries. The legend goes that when a seed is planted, for the first four years the gardener is fertilizing the soil and watering the plant. Year one, soil and water, nothing happens, no evidence of a plant above the soil. Year two, soil and water, nothing happens. Year three and year four, soil and water, nothing happens.
Every day, diligently, the gardener provides all of the nutrients needed and there’s not growth. But then, in the fifth year, these plants can sometimes grow 80 feet in just 60 days. So, the question is; “did this plant grow 80 feet in 60 days or did it grow 80 feet in five years?” The answer, of course, is that it took five years. But if the process stopped any time in years one, two, three, or four, we wouldn’t have seen that growth at all.
People often get close to their goals and they quit right before they are about to have success. Success can be just around the corner but we never know which corner it’s going to be around unless we keep moving forward. The idea of persisting indefinitely, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, whatever it takes, moving toward that goal is the practice of persistence.
One way to practice persistence is to set output goals and meet them. These goals could be related to walking, practicing tai chi, writing pages, cooking at home, or cultivating relationships. Jon Acuff, the author of Quitter, says, “Get the quantity and the quality will come.” In his book Quitter, he talks about how he wrote roughly a million words for free on blogs in order to create a 50,000-word best seller. By setting production goals, blogging day in and day out, he was able to create something of a high quality. Now he has three Wall Street Journal best sellers. Get the quantity and the quality will come.
What is a production goal for us? 30 meals at home this month (even if we ‘can’t cook’ yet), practice our tai chi form twice each day (even if it feels clumsy), stretch for ten minutes (even if it hurts at first), reach out to one friend a day, or send three loving messages to family members this week?