“The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”-Thomas A. Edison
Stick-to-itiveness sounds like a nonsense made up word, but all words are made up and yet this one is in the dictionary along with all the others. Stick-to-itiveness is defined as dogged perseverance and it’s first known usage was in 1859 so the idea of it has been around a long time. I am pretty sure that I first heard of stick-to-itiveness from a podcast that I listen to, and it came back to me yesterday as I was thinking about the day I was having.
Now today is Day (10) of the DividuusOne project, and while you might be thinking that yourself or I could do anything for ten days; that is not true for me. The majority of my failures surrounding this project, over the last decade, have happened well before I made it to Day (10). So yesterday was Day (9) and I was not having a great day. I have a phrase I like to use for the kind of day I was having yesterday but it is not all that politically correct so I won’t share it here. I had woke up on time to head out to the living room and work on things here before working out and getting ready for work, but I did not make it that far. I rather quickly fell back asleep in my chair, then overslept causing me to be a bit irritated when I woke up. I then had to rush to get myself ready for work, all while struggling to remain awake. I eventually got to work and found myself just sitting in my chair staring at the computer monitor. I did not feel good; I was tired, moody, annoyed and feeling pretty down on myself. It took me forever to get through my morning routine, I pushed off any major projects I had planned to work on and lightly filled my to do list with brainless tasks. This is the kind of day that in the past would have had me erasing all evidence of this project and starting over as a way to snap myself out of the funk I was in.
I did not do that though. Instead I thought about how much work I have put into this project over the last week or so. I thought about how much content I have created in and effort to not let myself hit that reset button. What I was trying to do here at DividuusOne and how many times I had just given up when I didn’t need to. Where I could be now had I just stuck with it. I got lunch and Just sat with those thoughts. It took a while to clear my mind of the negative self talk, but eventually I was able to get past it and start making progress on things here again. I am thankful today that I did not hit the reset button yesterday and I am hoping that this will serve as a milestone that I can reflect on the next time I have a day like that.
My ability to get through that kind of a day without erasing all progress and starting over had me thinking about stick-to-itiveness; the idea of just holding on and grinding it out. So I did some research on the word stick-to-itiveness today and found an article posted on The Art of Manliness blog that encapsulated a section of a 1944 book written by Donald A. Laird entitled The Technique of Building Personal Leadership. In the book Laird lists five ways to utilize stick-to-itiveness to get things done and I have posted a picture from that blog post here.
Laird uses stories to bring these five things to life and they can be distilled down to not giving yourself the option to retreat, to change your perspective, to just tell yourself no, to use each problem as a steppingstone to the overall solution, and faking it till you make it. There is one section of the piece that I found particularly enlightening; “Discouragement is a natural enemy to stick-to-itiveness. Yet discouraging situations are inevitable. Progress towards a goal is never uniform. Some days we spurt; then may come a disappointing week when no progress is made. This is what psychologists call the ‘plateau of despond.'” First, I might have to change the phrase I use for the kind of day I was having yesterday to the plateau of despond because it is both more politically correct and fun to say. Secondly, the bad days I have are not unique to me. Donald A. Laird was talking about days like this back in 1944 and the word stick-to-itiveness was coined in 1859. I have to find a way to get through these days, as they impact my vision and goals for this project, and keep moving forward. I am not good at faking it, I am not good at changing my perspective when I am feeling down, thinking of challenges as stepping stones, or just saying no (willpower is not a strong trait for me); but I have created more content than I have ever have before and I have begun sharing this project with other which is something I have never done before so I am sinking my ships and eliminating the options for retreat. I am creating a version of stick-to-itiveness for me.
Back to that Thomas Edison quote, he says first is hard work and I understand that building something from scratch and trying to realize a dream is going to be hard work; secondly is stick-to-itiveness and I am trying to figure out what that looks like; but third is common sense. It does not make sense to start over every time I have a bad day only to repeat the work I have already completed before all the while knowing that another bad day could be just around the corner. So the next time I am having a bad day I want to use some common sense and to think about this nonsensical word of stick-to-itiveness. I want to remember that I made it through the last bad day, I can do it again and my hope is that if your having a day this idea might help you get through it as well.