Thursday, July 17, 2014

Of stubbornness and persistence

Someone up there really does not like me. I mean, I am a pretty harmless sort of chap and I really cannot understand why someone should concentrate on messing me up at every turn. It is sort of gratifying that I am considered worthy of specific attention but, every now and then by way of varying the monotony, I can only wish that things could go right for me.

You see, back at school, they told me this story of Robert Bruce whose school-teacher was a spider (and, mind you, that was not even a fantasy tale) which taught him that 'If at first you do not succeed, try, try, try again' or some such thing. And my school teacher, who was not a spider (more is the pity, since lessons would have been more interesting that way and, if they got too boring, you could sort of squash the teacher), called this thing persistence.

It sort of seemed like persistence was a thing that you ought to acquire. I tried. I really did. The problem, though, was that when it came to me, they invented a new word for it - they called it stubbornness and, apparently, it was absolutely uncool to be stubborn.

That, in a nutshell, has been the story of my life. When it came to the other guy keeping on at something, he was called persistent and everyone patted him on the head and held him up as an example of what you ought to be. When I kept at something, I was called stubborn and everyone glared at me and held me up as an example of what you ought not to be. If this is not conclusive proof of malice from above, I would like to know what is. Seemed to me that if you kept pegging at a thing and succeeded in the end, you were called persistent. If, like me, all your repeated efforts only ended in failure, you were called stubborn.

Of course, there were always my friends who did not agree with my diagnoses. (That is another of my grouses. Am I the only person in the world, whose friends treat him as though he was brought up by parents, whose idea of parenting a newborn babe was to bounce him on his head sixty times a minute?) On one of my persistent attempts at solving a problem, all the sympathy he offered was, "If you keep assuming that two and two add up to five every time, I can hardly laud you for your persistence." (I am NOT stubborn. I offer up as proof the fact that, on my next attempt, I assumed it was six and NOT five, and still could not solve the problem. So there).

This chap sort of gave me the impression that sticking to a goal may be persistence BUT to stick to the way you went about chasing your goal without learning from your mistakes was to be stubborn. Of course he would say such things - he was lauded for HIS persistence merely because he eventually succeeded, so he was unlikely to accept that it was only injustice that did not land me on the same pedestal.

Anyway, I have found that, whenever I chased what I thought other people would prefer me to have, and was persistent at it, it was ALWAYS stubbornness. The malice that dogs me seems to have started with producing me with a kink in the brain that refuses to understand exactly what others would want of me. SO, I ended up chasing things with little success and got labelled stubborn for my efforts.

Then there are the things that I wanted. It is not that chasing them made others call me anything other than stubborn - but I found that I just did not care what I got called. When has a person with a sweet tooth ever bothered about what people said while bowling over others in his effort to snag the last piece of sweet on a buffet table? Even if he did fail, he would only regret the failure but not the effort. Something like that.

So, after this long, my philosophy has changed to "If at first you do not succeed, just give up" for all the things about which I even felt the need to think about whether I should persist or not. When it came to the things I REALLY wanted, the thought of giving up never crosses my mind.

After all, it is sort of idiotic to learn your lessons from spiders - blindly!

36 comments:

  1. That is some valuable philosophy.

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  2. Guru Suresh Maharajji ki Jai :)

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  3. That was some philosophy right there.

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  4. They just taught this chapter in my younger son's class. And all his replies were pat on. Try till you succeed :). I hope he will take a while to know that all the lessons that he is learning now may need unlearning later.

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    1. Hahaha! Wait till they hit him with the stubbornness thing :)

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  5. Echoing what Mahesh has said, I have nothing else to say other than "I am blessed by your acquaintance, and for having read this gem of a post"

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    1. Oh! Believe me, Jairam, I read the post all over again to see why it seemed that good - in vain :)

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  6. Bow down to thee! That was a very educative post and I fully agree with your policy :) Time I started implementing it too.. and finally let me echo what Mahesh said - Guru Suresh Maharajji ki Jai :)

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  7. What a brilliant, eye-opening post... and I thought I knew it all :) I really appreciate the 'kink' in your brain...its quite useful..in saving time ,energy and unwanted (read which one dont likes) criticism.I am at your side ..persistently !

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  8. That Spider story was very motivational for me, Sureshji.
    Uncle Pai (of Amar Chitra Katha & Tinkle) sent me loads of rejection-letters with that story!
    I took it to my heart & kept trying & finally succeeded in getting scores of my stories published in Tinkle! :)

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    1. If it is something you REALLY WANT to do, Anita, you generally tend to acquire the ability to do it - or the ability to find that you cannot (say loving music but being let down by your voice)

      Too often people chase the perceived rewards and do not really have the passion for what they are doing (as in people rushing to become actors - some have the passion; most want the fame). To stubbornly stick to the idea without even assessing your abilities is stupid.

      In my case, I never thought of giving up on whatever I wanted to do, so did not need spidery motivation :) If you see, I oppose following it 'blindly' and not otherwise :)

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    2. Very true, Sureshji. Our ability must be good enough too!
      We must try for what we really want with passion & the 'whole Universe will conspire' :)

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  9. Your post clearly enunciates that dogged determination--is a waste of time and energy when it does not come from heart.

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    1. And when it does, Indu, more often than not it becomes a way of life and the requirement for 'dogged determination' is just not there. I do not mean that problems will not arise - just that the idea of giving up tends not to arise OR is so weak that the requirement for determination is much lesser. Even where people have been faced with situations threatening their life, where the will to live is strong, the need for determination is lesser. It is only when you accept death to be a viable choice that you have to battle the idea of giving up with determination.

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  10. I try once and give up. Am too lazy to be persistent. Or stubborn.
    Your posts really jog my brain cells. Funnily, I don't mind this exercise at all.

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    1. As am I, Alka! I have found that where I have to force myself to pursue something, what I pursue generally is worthless to me, even if I get it. Where I WANT something, I find no need to force myself onward. I am sure that the same is the case with you, else you would not be the successful blogger that you are.

      It was wonderful to hear that from you. My humor, by and large, has been a veneer for some thought worth pondering in my opinion and it feels great to hear that my posts jog your brain cells.

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  11. Reminded me of these lines, "...be what you wanna be, taking things the way they come..." If I am not God's gift in maths, why follow the spider to better my neighbour's daughter's score? If we were to listen to what the world said, the earth would be full of clones.

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  12. Though funny, there is so much truth in your article Suresh. Whenever (I am ) people accuse me of being stubborn, I calmly tell them I am persistent! When I cannot convince someone, I manage to confuse them at least. LOL

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    1. Hahaha! I, on the other hand, have stopped trying to do anything about what other people think :)

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  13. Wish I could squish people like spiders.Can remove people out of the way with one stroke :D

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  14. Hahaha. Spider teacher...my son would love that one...alongwith with the idea of squashing her! Lesson learnt though...you could be a good teacher you know?! A stubborn one who will persist :)

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    1. Nobody who tried to learn from me said so :) They were probably praying for me to turn spider so they could squash me :)

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  15. Squish, squash, smash, crush, mash, grind--would have loved to do all these to several of my 'illustrious' teachers. Wouldn't have minded being persistent or stubborn about this! Turning a new leaf? Philosophy? The gyan is there and so is the gyani look...

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    1. No change. Always was what this post makes me seem like I am :) This one was written in 2014

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