Bill Cottringer

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing all the hard work you already did.” ~Newt Gingrich.

This morning I was driven to write this article after initially responding via e-mail to an interesting conversation about schools and the questionable direction in which they seem to be headed; and then going to the gym while peddling furiously for thirty minutes on the stationary bike to work off a measly 250 calories and diverting the pain by reading an inspiring editorial, “Bring It On!” by the editor of “Men’s Health” magazine, David Zinczenko. Wow, I am sorry, that was a very long one sentence opening paragraph, but it is leading to something extremely important today, more than ever. Patience please?

This inspiring editorial by DZ acknowledged the urgent need for perseverance given the state of life today, and revealed Lance Armstrong’s intentions of an impossible comeback as the sports greatest cyclist, as the best possible example, from which we can all learn and be inspired. It sure helped me to peddle faster and harder, even though I wasn’t going anywhere. But let me get somewhere now.

In looking back over my own upbringing in Haddon Heights, NJ, especially in the area of values-teaching, my parents instilled two critical values into the core of my being—hope and perseverance. My mother was an incurable optimist with unshakable faith in the reality that life always had her and her family’s best interests in mind. When she had one leg amputated, she saw that as a good way to reduce shoe costs, only having to buy one.

My father was a hard-working man who would never give up on anything. He always knew (maybe from his wife’s hope?), that a little more effort, especially when you felt least like doing it, would always lead to positive results and a better outcome. Not necessarily to my liking or acceptance, he over-did this hard work ethic and perseverance thing with me, though. At least I thought so at the time.

Even in the 8th grade I had to have a landscaping business around the neighborhood in the summer to buy my school clothes for the Fall session. Of course I also had to mow our huge lawn with a hand push mower and shovel snow off our never-ending corner lot pavement, before I could do those two things for profit elsewhere and have some spending money. I thought that was a bit unfair, but...

But I have to tell you, these two values of hope and perseverance have literally saved my life more than once and I am 100% certain they will help me survive the current adversity that the fallout from the information overload, speed of change, values socioquake, and economic recession is confronting us with as I write this article.

In thinking about this all, I don’t believe the value of hope came from my mother. I think it is part of the way life really works and is the direction in which we are being pushed and pulled, no matter how uncomfortable, painful or bloody the present totally negative experience is. It is the perseverance factor that is the human value to practice and practice like there are no more tomorrows. And without perseverance, there will be a very unhappy tomorrow. It is the single most important thing we can control to better deal with the adversity and suffering that is burdening us all.

Perseverance is the one value that I truly believe is worth taking all the way to its end—embracing it fully with zero hesitation or doubts and 100% certainty of getting results with it. The only possible danger in this all or nothing value, is that you will become immune to quitting and go past the point of no return in not seeing the right timing to quit the few irreconcilable things that may need that response. However, a truly persevering perspective about perseverance doesn’t have the word “quit” in its unabridged dictionary. So what’s the worry?

I think I had two very smart parents who anticipated what two values I needed most to live by in order to survive what was to come in my life. I am thankful about that and working very hard to know and live the values my children need most to thrive past this surviving mode we are stuck in. Isn’t that what living is all about?

“The person who is waiting for something to turn up might start with their shirtsleeves.” ~Garth Henrichs.

Smiling in Bad Times
By Bill Cottringer

Been through war,
Been penniless,
Been jobless,
Been wifeless,
Been hurt bad,
Even homeless;
Kept one thing
In bad times:
My smile;
Yes, it’ll get bleak—
Worse wars,
More violence,
Too much suffering,
Less fun,
Less money,
Less good times;
But, you know what?
There’s always
Ice cream,
Comic books,
And conversation;
You can frown,
Feel bad,
Get drunk,
Get angry,
Take pills,
Even get back;
But nothing changes,
Until you finally learn,
Why to smile,
In bad times.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair Rx” (Publish America) and “Reality Repair” (coming shortly) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or