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Persistence vs perseverance

I really consider Philippe as being one of the misunderstood geniuses of modern times.
He’s a friend of mine.
One of the only guys who lived in a messier place than me. He always lived by his own rules and seems to understand only facts. The only things I’ve seen him taking interest in, are drinking beer and flying.
Funny thing: Although he has a masters degree in engineering, he does not believe in probability. Things will happen or they don’t. An interesting guy.

I was discussing with him about my goals. And I told him about the experiment I always use as a reference.

The experiment is the following:
In a famous university, the teacher asked the students if any of them had any written goals with a deadline attached to it. Only 10% had explicit objectives.
20 years later, 3% of all the students had a greater revenue than the 97% others combined. And most of those 3% belonged to the 10% who had objectives in their minds.

After I read about that experiment, I decided to write my owns, and to keep them in mind. That was 4-5 years ago.

Philippe was on the phone with me, when I told him about that.

He told me 2 stories.
1) A pilot looks at his controls, and realises that his aircraft is flying too fast. He reduces the thrust.
But the speed indicated does not change. Therefore he keeps reducing the thrust. Until the aircraft falls and crashes: the speed indicator was broken.
2) Imagine you’re playing a video game.
Your virtual character is locked in a room. But you find a broomstick. Since you have the broomstick you try it everywhere unsuccessfully. But if the broomstick is removed, you start noticing other things, like the secret key that was hidden under the chair.

Then he asked me “what is the difference between being persistent, and being perseverant?”
Well the 2 are the same things, but only the outcome is different.
If you keep trying and you achieve, you are perseverant.
If you keep trying and you fail, you were persistent.

Focusing on the wrong things can make you obstinate. It can cloud your vision.
Philippe says that only if the object of obstination is removed (broomstick, broken speed indicator), then, only then,
the situation can be considered objectively.

Have I confused persistence with perseverence?
I don’t know, but if I ask myself too many questions, I’ll never achieve my written goals.

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4 Comments to "Persistence vs perseverance"

  1. syl's Gravatar syl
    June 9, 2010 - 8:03 am | Permalink

    When will u write about me?
    Im so jealous ;-)

  2. November 21, 2011 - 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Do you have the reference for the experiment you mention?
    You may be interested in the following TED video which, I understand correctly, says something a bit different: do not disclose your goals. The psychlogical effect mentioned may occur when you write down your goals, don’t you think?
    Anyway, do you have any link or reference to the experiment in the famous university ?

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