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Persistence in Business

Published February 24, 2017
Countries: USA
Age Levels: 12 and up

The Oxford University Press defines persistence as standing firm or maintaining obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Persistence is the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people.” Successful business leaders must have patience and persistence.

Story: A well-known and gifted nineteenth century violinist displayed tenacity that is still remembered 200 years later as an example of persistence. Nicolo Paganini was a noted showman with a quick sense of humor, a truly great performer. His most memorable concert was in Italy with a full orchestra. He was performing before a full house. His playing technique was masterful. His audience was wrapped up in his performance and loved him. Toward the end of his concert, a string on his violin snapped. Most musicians would have stopped to change the string or to change instruments. As the string hung limply from his instrument Paganini frowned briefly and shook his head. He continued to play, improvising beautifully.

Suddenly, a second string broke and then third. The audience sat in amazement as Paganini stood there with three strings dangling from his Stradivarius. It would have been entirely reasonable for the great performer to leave the stage. But the magic of the performance would have ended. Instead of quitting, Paganini stood his ground. In a calm manner he completed the difficult number on the one remaining string. He pressed on to complete his performance, overcoming all obstacles and gave his audience a thrill that could be talked about in the music world forever.

I tell a folktale that demonstrates persistence. It is about the frogs in the milk pail. However, an unknown author told the story in the form of a poem that can create a lasting image in the mind of the average business student of the power of persistence. 

Keep on Swimming - *A story of Persistence

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl/

One was an optimistic soul.

But the other took the gloomy view.

“We’ll drown,” he lamented without much ado,

And with a last despairing cry,

He flung up his legs and said, “Goodbye.”


Quote the other frog with a steadfast grin,

“I can’t get out, but I won’t give in.

I’ll just swim around until my strength is spent,

Then I’ll die the more content.”

Bravely he swam to work his scheme,

And his struggles began to churn the crème,


The more he swam, his legs a flutter,

The more cream turned into butter.

On top of the butter at last he stopped,

and out of the bowl he gaily hopped.


What is the moral? It’s easily found…

If you can’t hop out, keep swimming around!


“Many of life's failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (Thomas A. Edison, inventor of the electric lightbulb and holder of over 1000 patents.)