One Powerful Characteristic of Highly Successful People

By Doug Armey

“Patience and fortitude conquer all things.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patience is one of those characteristics we admire in others.  And hope we won’t need.

Yet, don’t we all hit roadblocks?  We set out to accomplish something important.  Saving for a nice retirement, writing a book, starting a business, building a great career.  But inevitably setbacks hit us.  And it seems like the greater the goals?  The more road bumps.  Life just never runs in a straight line to our extraordinary dreams.  Guess that’s why they’re extraordinary.

Unfortunately, that’s when we’re tempted to give up.  We tell ourselves, “It’s too much.  It’s not worth it.  It’s too hard.  I guess it’s not meant to be.”

If that causes us to reevaluate our goals and see what’s really important that’s ok.  But sometimes we just give up too soon. And then we look back later and wonder, “What if?”

A friend and client, who’s a couple of years away from retirement, called me in frustration.  She wasn’t mad at me just the situation.  For the last several years stock investments have been going basically nowhere.  She lives well and wants to maintain that in retirement.  With the financial meltdown her account values plunged along with everyone else.

She said in exasperation, “I keep putting money into my retirement but it goes nowhere.  I don’t want to keep risking it for no return.  And all my friends, who are my age, think I’m crazy for even having any stock investments.  They all have theirs in the bank.”

Last year we toned down the volatility of her portfolio by diversifying even more broadly.  Over the last few months it’s been relatively stable.  We had a long conversation in my office about that in early 2009.  At the time it was the best compromise position and it brought her enough comfort to hang in there through the dark days of last year.

As a result she’s made a great recovery.

We talked further about expectations.  How when we’ve had an underperforming decade, as we just finished, the subsequent decade has typically outperformed.  I wanted her to look beyond today and have confidence in the future.

We finished our conversation with her still less than happy about the situation.  But she was at least confident enough to give it time to change.  I truly believe she’ll reap the rewards of her patience.  And for now it seems like the only logical strategy given her goals.  She’s doing the right things but finding it truly hard to be patient especially when friends are criticizing her decisions.

I like Emerson’s quote.  Victory is often simply patience combined with hard work in a straight line toward our goals.

Hebrews says it like this, “Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked out before us.”

If you’ve ever competed in anything, you know there are inevitable setbacks and surprises.  Victory generally doesn’t go to the one with no problems but the one who perseveres through them.

So what helps us run with that patience and endurance?

Some things I read in that quote which help me.

First, I try to put off everything that hinders me. Negative people?  I don’t hang around them much.  Negative, emotionalized TV and radio?  I don’t watch or listen to it very often.  This helps me keep my mind clear and focused on the positive things.

Second, I have a pretty good idea of what I’m trying to accomplish. I write down goals—big goals at times.  I want to accomplish great things in my life with whatever gifts I’ve received.  When I focus on those goals and dreams it keeps me motivated.

Third, as part of that, I have overriding passions about things I want to see changed in the world. People helped who didn’t have the advantages I had.  That gets my focus off me and helps me get above the day to day disappointments.

Fourth, I trust God to help me get there. Are my goals good?  Do they truly serve God and help others?  Do they truly impassion me? If so, I trust he’s guiding me and all I need to do is keep on keeping on.  This gives me confidence when the path seems futile and sometimes dark.

Fifth, I try to put off the self destructive behaviors that slow me down. There are obviously the big issues we all have a pretty good idea about.  But there are also subtle issues that dissipate my time, energy and health.  Each one seems trivial.  But together they hinder me.  I try to be sensitive to these life wasters.  When I solve those issues it helps give me the edge I need to succeed.

And finally, I realize that ultimately it’s not all up to me anyway.  God wants to bless me. He’s promised me an extraordinary life. I find when I rest in that promise it creates peace and the resulting patience that guides me over the rough patches.  It helps me to hang in there and see things through to the other side.  It gives me that one quality none of us really wants.

Have you hit some setbacks?  Any bumps knocked you off course?

What helps keep you going?

If this post has helped you please let me know.  And please subscribe if you haven’t already and share it with a friend.  Thanks.

Important Disclosures:

Douglas Armey, the LPL Financial adviser associated with this website, practices in Fresno, California and may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the following states:  California, Idaho, Arizona and Oregon.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. All performance reference is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

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