How Perseverance trumps Persistence and why this matters for your success in life.

By Chris Hardy
Chris Hardy

In Ryan Holiday’s awesome book ‘The Obstacle is The Way’ there is a brilliant distinction between persistence and perseverance.

In creating our lives as independent business minded individuals we often come up against what seems like insurmountable obstacles.

What I suggest here is having the appropriate attitude of perseverance. This will help you tackle life‘s obstacles with more ease, joy and fluidity than if you take the approach of being persistent.

Here is why:

Persistence is like when the Orcs in Lord of the Rings were attacking Helms Deep. They were giving the onslaught everything they had. They were putting big ladders, bringing battering rams, firing balls of molten lava up over the walls and down into the castle. In the end they got through but it took a shitload of effort and they were pretty destroyed after the battle with huge loss of life.


Perseverance, on the other hand, is like the 10 year journey of Odysseus. He had to return from Troy having fought a huge battle and on his way home the journey turned into a complete adventure into the unknown.

Perseverance required Odysseus to demonstrate significant courage, heart, and WILL. It asked for all his discipline, leadership capacity and spontaneity. Fortunately Odysseus was a gifted leader and everyone made it home successfully.

What I’m suggesting here is summed up in the following:

“There are far more failures in the world due to the collapse of will then there will ever be from objectively external events.”

Read that again carefully.

It’s talking about your will. It’s referring to your belief, your heart, or my heart, or that of the other entrepreneur in the shared office.

What I find exciting and inspiring and useful is to bring this attitude of perseverance to my business creation.

Know that you are building a castle, you’re playing the long game, this is a 10 year adventure. Who knows what kind of monsters and dangers you will face?

But if you come with sufficient perseverance; that would include a big enough heart, a deep in the belief in yourself, a constant willingness to be creative and spontaneous and demonstrate your leadership capacity; then I have no doubt whatever challenges life throws at you, you will persevere, you will overcome, and you will succeed.