Each year about this time, residents of Nanjing love to remind each other of the foreboding heat that is about to descend upon the city. You will often hear the comment, “You know, Nanjing is one of the four furnace cities in China; it’s going to be hot this summer!”
While folklore includes Nanjing as a top “furnace” city, the meteorology data collected over the last 30 years of the “hottest cities in China” (as reported by China Weather Television on 16 July 2013) dropped Nanjing down the list to number 14.
Is this not often the case? When we look at the data and examine facts, that which we fear is often not as bad as we had imagined.
This is true for many challenges in life. Often voices around us will tell us what can be done, and what cannot be done. Usually, these voices base their input on minimal facts, maximal opinions and limited experience.
In order to thrive in life, it is absolutely essential that we learn the fine art of persevering.
History provides us of many examples of those that have persevered through the “heat” to accomplish the “impossible”, resulting in significant contributions to the world.
Socrates. Considered one of the greatest thinkers the Classical Era; his contemporaries completely rejected his musing. In fact, he was sentenced to death because his “new-age ideas” branded him “an immoral corrupter of youth”.
Henry Ford. Prior to founding Ford Motor Company, he overcame bankruptcy five times with failed ventures.
Vincent Van Gogh. While alive, was was able to sell one painting. He persevered to paint over 800 other pieces, while starving and often destitute. Today his “unappreciated” work sells for hundreds of millions dollars. Albert Einstein. Not considered a “boy genius”, his parents and teachers began to think he was mentally handicapped and socially awkward due to that fact he did not begin to speak until the age of 4 or read until he was 7.
Jack Ma. Experienced years of failure; 3 times rejected entrance to university in China, 10 times rejected from Harvard. After completing university, received 30 rejections when applying for a job, experienced 2 failed ventures. Then in 1999 he started Alibaba. Now worth >US$30 billion.
Elon Musk. Founder of X.com (later Paypal), SpaceX, Tesla, Solar City, Neuralink and more, Musk has persevered many times through insurmountable odds; auto crash, deathly bout of cerebral malaria, being ousted as CEO twice, 3 failed launches of rockets, etc. Now worth >US$16 billion.
TIME FOR A HOLIDAY FROM THE HEAT?
How about you? Are you experiencing a difficult patch? Is the work you are doing seem to be impossible? Are there voices around you telling it is impossible; that it will never work?
Perhaps it is time to find a new data set. Gain additional input from voices that have a different perspective.
It might even be time to take a brief break from the heat. Head to the beach. Head to the mountains. Go to an interesting conference. Surround yourself with new voices. Remind yourself of what you are really trying to accomplish; what is your end game?
Then return to the heat – and persevere. Your company needs you to. Your family needs you to. The world needs you to.