Tortoise Beats the Hare Every Time

Did you happen to look around on Monday morning and notice that the world was just a few steps behind in its normal routine? Did you see more people sleeping on the bus, or just rubbing their eyes and yawning a few seconds more frequently than usual? Were you one of the many who felt like they were less than a fully functioning person?

I know I was. For whatever reason, I probably could have slept all day on Monday and I’m still feeling more zombie than human.

Did September really take that much of a toll on me, on everyone? Was it the sudden change from blue skies to gray ones? Or the fact that, for the first time in months, it was still dark outside when I got up in the morning?

Maybe it was the collective realization that it’s only October and winter hasn’t even started yet.

Whatever the cause, the effect was palpable. And with it we now officially begin trudging toward the end of the semester and—dare I say it—the holiday break. I know, it’s way too early to be thinking about that sort of thing, but I really can’t help it. At least there’s a long weekend coming up.

Having noted the above, I think it’s a fitting time to talk about persistence, stick-to-it-iveness, keeping your chin up, rolling with the punches, and a bevy of other metaphors. Author Daniel Pink wrote in his book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need (a fantastic 20-minute read in manga style) that Persistence Trumps Talent. The thrust of his argument is that there are countless talented people out there who never achieved significant success because they weren’t in it for the long haul—they didn’t persist through inevitable adversity. To use a hockey analogy, think of someone like Jason Bonsignore, a player who was able to cruise his way through the junior hockey ranks to earn a first-round spot in the draft, but fell to obscurity within a few years of playing in the NHL, where things were much tougher (much to the lingering dismay of Edmonton Oilers fans).

Meanwhile, those without the equivalent raw talent who are nonetheless able to keep going (and growing) through tough times will more often than not prove to be useful contributors to society. These are the pluggers, the workhorses who never want to quit. In hockey terms, they are the players who were drafted in later rounds or never drafted at all, like Curtis Joseph (!), Dwayne Roloson and Adam Oates. The list of NHL players who were never drafted is long. Meanwhile, only 6 players drafted in the first round between 1990 and 1994 have played 1,000 or more NHL games.

Of course, the ideal scenario would be to have a great mix of both persistence and talent, like the Sidney Crosbys of the world. It’s not really wise to only rely on one or the other, but if you had to pick one, the world loves its Cinderella stories, just as it likes to laugh contentedly when Goliath falls.

We are, indeed, in for a long haul this winter. However, the constructive way of looking at this would be to say that it’s a test of our endurance. An experience that will allow us to grow in a way that comfort and ease never will.

Still, a little extra sunshine wouldn’t hurt.

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