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All About You: Perseverance: Don’t give up on your goals


EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

Perseverance is the name of NASA’s rover on Mars. As I write this, the rover has spent more than 50 days collecting nearly 20,000 images and numerous samples.

Its landing – and a few other features of the mission – has been widely publicized. However, the many years of research and hard work leading up to Perseverance’s launch largely went unnoticed.

That’s similar to many “overnight successes.” An example: A music group has a No. 1 hit and is proclaimed an overnight sensation. Rarely is it true.

Perseverance (the noun describing continued effort despite difficulties and failures) is a typical trait among people who accomplish outstanding achievements. They didn’t give up on a dream or lofty goal even when the odds were against them. How did they do it, and how can we learn from these long-term achievers?

Studying people who’ve accomplished great things despite overwhelming odds can give you insight into what it takes to reach your dreams. Copying their attitude and actions can help put you on a path to success.

Besides the obvious, such as being passionate about their work, people who’ve achieved grand success have three major things in common:

They take action every day, which brings them closer to their dream.
Sitting around and dreaming does nothing unless it’s followed by action. And practice. For example: As a safety and health professional, you’ve got to keep up with what’s going on in the safety and health field if you want to be a beneficial influence. If you conduct safety meetings, then you need to study and practice how to make them engaging.

While working full time as a safety and health pro, I regularly conducted training sessions. So in addition to technical books on safety, I read every book I could get my hands on about presentation skills. I also read up on adult learning behavior and other “soft skills.”

Because I dreamed of becoming a motivational safety speaker, I read everything I could find about that, too. “Speak and Grow Rich,” a book by Dottie Walters, inspired me to take the leap and start my speaking and consulting company.

Failures and setbacks don’t stop them. They adapt and learn from obstacles.
Rick Allen, the drummer for hard rock/metal band Def Leppard, lost his left arm after a car crash in 1984. He didn’t quit drumming! Instead, he retaught himself how to play his instrument and used his left foot as a replacement for his arm. He went on to have a long, successful career as the band’s drummer. This type of perseverance is always inspiring.

Do you have a goal you feel like giving up on (or already have) because of difficulties? If so, remember that perseverance and action can overcome the harshest setbacks. If you allow it, adversity can be an excellent teacher.

A saying I regularly use to inspire myself when the going gets tough is: “The obstacle is the way.” It’s derived from the words of philosopher Marcus Aurelius, who, more than 2,000 years ago, said, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

They ignored people’s negative opinions about their abilities.
If people tell you that you can’t accomplish what you’re aspiring to, ignore them. So many family members, friends, co-workers – and even the proprietor of a local hardware store – told me how stupid I was to leave my steady job to pursue my dream of becoming a speaker.

It’s also vital that you believe in yourself and face any fear you feel. J.K. Rowling, who posted the first of 12 rejection letters of a “Harry Potter” manuscript on her refrigerator, is an example. She was destitute at the time and, like most of us, had a fear of failure. But she kept going and eventually created a multibillion-dollar story empire.

Persevering to fulfill my dreams has been supported by my belief that I have something unique to offer that makes a positive difference in the safety and health field. So do you!

This article represents the views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

Richard Hawk helps leaders inspire employees to care more about their safety and health so “nobody gets hurt.” He also has a long history of success getting safety leaders to increase their influence and make safety fun. For more than 35 years, Richard’s safety keynotes, training sessions, books and “Safety Stuff” e-zine have made a positive difference in the safety and health field. Learn more about how Richard can improve your employees’ safety performance at

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