The Power of Persistence

Written on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 5:15 pm by Christiane

Cancer researcher Judah Folkman has died. Folkman was a visionary who for more than 30 years pursued his idea that cutting off a tumor’s blood supply would stop cancer growth. Today, more than one million of cancer patients are being treated with medication based on his groundbreaking research.I’m writing about Folkman because his life and work demonstrates that success often requires sticking to ideas even in the face of skepticism and criticism. When he first proposed his ideas about cutting off the blood supply his colleagues didn’t take him seriously. Cancer research in the 70s focused on improving chemotherapy drugs. But Folkman didn’t give up on his idea to swim with the mainstream. Instead, he pursued it with great determination even though his own experiments didn’t always deliver the results he had hoped for. It eventually paid off and in 1998 the Ney York Times celebrated him on page one as the man who could cure cancer. Though these hopes were too high, drugs targeting a tumor’s blood supply are today a fixed part of many treatment plans.

Secret of success

In my opinion, Folkman’s story highlights one of the biggest differences between successful people and less successful. It’s often not about skills, talent, knowledge, power or money. The difference is in the degree of determination and persistence. I read in Folkman’s obituary in the Boston Globe that he liked to joke “if your idea succeeds, everybody says you are persistent. If it doesn’t succeed, you’re stubborn”.

The thing is, many people with good ideas give up because they are afraid of being perceived as stubborn.

No such word as ‘failure’

According to the same obituary a friend said about him, that there was no such word as defeat in Folkman’s lexicon. A setback like an experiment with inconclusive results was only a learning point. Relentlessly, Folkman tried again with new experiments to prove that cancer growth can be stopped by cutting off the blood supply.

This is the second secret of success: the ability to view failure only as a temporary setback. On the long run, each failure offers the possibility to learn from it and thus gets you one step closer to your goal.

Experience success through the assistance of a life coach

Not many people have this ability, and exactly here a life coach could help. A life coach provides support, offers feedback, designs with you a plan how to achieve your goal and will help to refocus in times of temporary setbacks.

Most importantly, a life coach will help you to silence your “inner critic”; it’s this voice inside your head which most of us know too well: “You are not good enough; nobody cares; who you think you are?” The road to success is rocky enough without the added burden of the inner critic.

4 Responses to “The Power of Persistence”

  1. Romy says:

    Hi Christiane,
    I am sorry to hear about Cancer researcher Folkman loss who allowed so many patients to get treated. We sure need people like him, who believe and persist to resist and fight against toughness of the life to make it better.
    There are definitely many ways and and help available out there to overcome difficult situations. So many people surge into the box and get sicker and sicker.

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