Changing Your Life With Perseverance

Jim Rohn made an notable observation when he said, “Character isn’t something you were born with and can’t change, like fingerprints. It’s something you weren’t born with and must take responsibility for forming.”

It’s interesting because many people seem to think that character is built-in; either you won the character lottery or you didn’t. But Rohn’s right—a good character is a habit that’s formed by consistently making the right choice for the right reasons.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t all have a little help. Each of us has our own strengths and, when we push ourselves to discover them, we often learn that they can be quite useful for building character.

When I was in the military, I took a performance test that was disguised as an advanced training course. The test was designed to weed out the best people to pursue a new career in diving. It was an impossibly strenuous course, and we operated on little to no sleep and limited nourishment. We were up at all hours of the day and night–running, swimming, and working out. It was an emotionally challenging time, and we were all forced to push ourselves to our limits, physically and mentally. Now here’s the catch: the course didn’t end until we were down to just six people. The longest record was 21 days.

Everyone was given a whistle, and when they were at their breaking point, they blew it to indicate that they were giving up. I had some tough competition—each of the twenty participants were at the top of their current line of work, whether they were medics, infantrymen, or search-and-rescue technicians. But still, it wasn’t long before we were down to nine.

After all, it was easy to quit. If you weren’t in the top six, nothing bad would happen to you. You just went back to your current high-level career. But if you won… you got to move on to a new diving career with a new mission. You’d be taking your career to the next level. And it was all up to you.

The night the test ended was also the night I encountered one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever endured. That night, we were woken up for a run after only an hour and a half of sleep. We were asked to bring our diving gear along with us.

We ran and ran. We passed all of our usual landmarks and kept running. It felt like we were never going to stop. I knew I didn’t have much left in me, so I started playing mind games, telling myself to run to the next landmark before giving up. Then, when I hit the next landmark, I’d set myself up for a new challenge.

Finally, we hit the water, and without letting us stop to rest, the instructors told us to suit up and start swimming. At that point, I really knew I was done. But then I heard a whistle. We were down to eight!

There were only two of us left to quit, but I decided to try and push through until one more person whistled. When they did, I was almost ecstatic. I’d be done soon! It was my turn!

Just when I was about to blow my whistle, someone else beat me to it. The challenge was over, and I was in the top six. There were just seconds between winning and losing, but I kept persevering, and in the end, it paid off. We were finally done, after 19 long days.

Staying true to my character and testing my limits allowed me to take a step in my career that I almost missed out on. Has there ever been a time when perseverance changed your life? I’d love to read about your experiences in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “Changing Your Life With Perseverance

  1. I love this story Claude! It is so true how when you look back at the times you want to quit the MOST, when things are the toughest, is when you learn the most about yourself and feel the most proud. I felt this way last year when I won the Life of Life push-up contest. I was in the gym everyday which was hard enough and nobody likes that but raising money every day!! Pounding the phones, organizing a fundraiser, running around to churches and other organizations for donations….OH don’t forget to go go-getter and build your business meanwhile your relationship is hitting the fan. While all this was happening and you want to quit…. you just don’t give yourself that option. It was one of the best lessons I ever taught myself.
    Great post! You are such an amazing example thanks for all you do!
    God Bless

  2. I just got out of jail speaking to the inmates about this today at Bible Study. Hard times shape us into His image for greater use to others! Awesome testimony Claude and great reminder to stay the course – come what may. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

  3. Thanks for the insight, Claude! The Best Results ALWAYS Occur Just Past the Point Where Most People Give Up!!!

  4. Wooow that’s amazing. It’s the same thing i working with my group to develop. At the end we don’t know what we can do until doing the extra is our only last option, thank you Claude for a such success story.

  5. Great story Claude. Thanks for pushing yourself to become the best of the best that served our country. Thanks for inspiring others with your stories of perseverance. I too have a story of pushing myself mentally and physically but it comes nowhere close to yours. After deciding that I wanted to become a fighter I joined a kickboxing gym and starting going everyday. After a few months of sparring, coaching and working out my coach asked if I wanted to take a fight in 2.5 months. If course I said yes ( choleric ). I knew from studying professionals that the fight is won in the training beforehand so I got to work. I pushed myself so hard somedays that I threw up. I had my own bucket in the corner of the gym with my name on it. Blood sweat and tears. For 2.5 months. When I was sore I went to the gym. When I was tired I went to the gym. When I was sick I went to the gym. When I didn’t feel like it I went to the gym. It was either my face or his. All that I could picture was the official raising my hand and my opponent on his back. I got beat up hard by my coach and teammates. Training sucked but I wanted to win. My first fight lasted 38 seconds. I didn’t get hit once…6 more fights later I had a cruiserweight championship belt. Somedays I wish I never got that head trauma from that car accident. Melissa won’t let me fight anymore. My doctor advised against fighting. I just thank god that I’m still here and reletively healthy with a beautiful wife and amazing friends. Thanks for allowing me to share Claude.

  6. Thanks for the great read, Claude! I found I learned a lot about myself when persevering through breaking a bad habit or creating a good habit. Both can be tough to do, but when you’re plugged into the right system and connected to an amazing group of individuals it can be easier to do!

    Thank you LIFE Leadership – I can honestly say you’ve changed my life!

    Jenny L

  7. I have listen to your audio with story dozens of times. It is one my favorite stories you have shared. Though in business we are not killing terrorist, this story never fails to inspire me to continue to fight for my dreams. Thanks for leading.



  9. I was prospecting for the HAMC and we pushed guys similarly. Little sleep, hard fast pack riding in the dark, little rest, bad weather etc. I was going through my 2nd of 3 open heart surgeries. So I was already exhausted from my bad heart. Having arrhythmia attacks that spiked my heart rate to 130 bpm.
    I had to perservere through working 50 hours a week, hopping on my bike and riding 1000 miles a weekend, staying up facing people who wanted me dead cops who thought I was a criminal and didn’t deserve my rights. Losing family and friends to be the best I could be as a motorcycle enthusiast. For 19 months, 7 months longer than expected. I eventually made it, got my patch and then 6 months later was out of the club undergoing open heart surgery again. I rode even though my sternum bled. I rode in pain. I rode in fear. But I rode. Since then I have been persevering to improve my heart function, taking responsibility for my results in life to be a great dad and man, overcoming daily the idea of giving up with Drs telling me I need a transplant and shouldn’t do much of anything. Showing the plan while blessing from a new pacemaker implant. Being a person who focuses on the things I can do.

  10. That’s very encouraging. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes our short term goals help us hang in there til a longer term goal is reached and ultimately out long range vision is closer to realization. The more successes we experience makes us more confident that we wil eventually be successful. The secret is to keep moving forward doing what our head tells us is right until our heart catches up and then we can have the whole prize. Again thanks for sharing.

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