Albert Einstein was a brilliant man who made many scientific discoveries, and he attributes his success to his perseverance. He once said,

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

As infants, everyone seems to have an incredible work ethic when learning new things because they will continuously try things over and over again until they succeed at what they are trying to learn.  Think of a baby learning how to walk.  No matter how many times they fall, they keep getting back up and trying again. They may take a break for a while, but then they go back to it to figure it out.  Unfortunately, at some point in our lives, most individuals tend to outgrow this sheer determination to keep trying until we figure it out.

Perseverance is an essential skill for any individual, regardless of whether they have a disability or not. Successful individuals have the ability to persevere in the face of adversity in the many facets of life. Individuals have to develop their own strategies for the many different aspects of their life such as schooling, maintaining good physical and mental health, work, coping in social settings and relationships, and a recreational or leisure setting.  Some of the settings will require their own strategies and some strategies will be able to be applied to all settings.  Below are five essential things that individuals need to understand about perseverance, and then I discuss how vital perseverance has been in my life.

5 Things Individuals with Disabilities should Understand:

1. Understand the meaning of perseverance.

Merriam-Webster defines perseverance as “a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or oppositions.”
Individuals who experience the world in ways other than what is considered or typical will likely face many obstacles along their way through life.  They have two choices, they can take a deep breath and meet the challenge, or they can give up. If an individual wants to persevere, they decide to face the challenge even though they know it will be hard.


2. Understand the benefits of perseverance and the consequences of not persevering.

Individuals with disabilities face more than their fair share of difficulties, and there are so many times that it would be so much easier for them just to give up. They need to learn the importance of persevering or sticking with it and pushing through the hard times, no matter how difficult they are because when they succeed it will feel like they are on top of the world. 

The problem with someone giving up and not pushing through the challenge is that next time they face a challenge it is harder for them to persevere and much easier to just give up.  It can lead to a vicious cycle of giving up every time they face something that challenges them.


3. Understand perseverance as it relates to goal setting

It is always easier for someone to push through the difficult time and keep on trying when they have a target or a goal that they are working towards.  The goal provides the incentive for the individual to persevere. It is crucial for individuals to know how to set their own goals because they will be more motivated to want to reach them and have the strength to push through the difficult times to get there.


4. Develop strategies for dealing with obstacles/setbacks and adjust to change

Unfortunately, life is not always fair, and everyone needs to develop ways to deal with the frustration that comes with having to deal with the challenges they face along their way to succeed.

Some general strategies can work, but everyone needs to find the strategies that work best for them and realize that not all strategies will work or be practical in all situations.

Some strategies include stopping what they are doing and taking a break to do something enjoyable, talking to someone they trust about the problem, try to find a positive in the situation, try to find something they can learn from the situation, or indulge in their favourite treat. 

Not all of these strategies can be used in all instances, but hopefully, these strategies will help individuals realize that they are only facing a setback and that they just need to find a new way to move forward, even if that means having to adjust their goals or expectations.

5. Recognize that passion and desire keep one moving in the face of adversity

Individuals need to understand that there will be times when even though what they are trying to accomplish seems impossible, the only way they are sure to fail is by giving up. Somehow, they need to develop the desire within themselves to keep on trying to succeed no matter how hard it gets.


On a personal note:

As an individual with dyslexia, I know from personal experience what if feels like to struggle with facing what seems to be roadblock after roadblock on my educational path. 

There have been several times when I have felt the urge just to give up and do something else.  There have even been times in my life where I have had educators tell me to give up and not expect so much of myself. 

I am so glad I did not listen to them and that I developed the strength and strategies to persevere.

I am lucky because throughout my life I have been fortunate to have an incredible support system to provide encouragement.

Success is the best revenge

 When I was younger, my Mom bought me this tile, and it has always thought of it when I am faced with yet another challenge that I am not sure if I have the strength to withstand. It has become my motto and proving all the people who said I couldn’t reach my goals has provided me with the determination to get over even the most significant obstacles in life.

I have gone from failing elementary school classes to earning a Ph.D., and nothing can take away the pride I feel from this accomplishment. 

Looking back now, even though I wish I never had to go through the pain and suffering I went through as a child, I know it was needed to make me the person I am today and given me the experiences and resources I need to help others avoid the challenges I faced.

You can read more about the challenges I have faced and how I have managed to persevere in spite of them in this post.

This post is based on a journal article by Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins & Herman’s qualitative analysis of 20 years of research published Learning Disabilities Research & Practice.