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Has your practice hit a roadblock? If you answered yes, here’s how to persevere.


Consider the Cliff Young story. The Australia Ultra Marathon was a foot race of 544 grueling miles, from Sydney to Melbourne. At this particular race, in 1983, a very odd competitor showed up. Every other athlete was a highly trained, commercially sponsored professional. But this particular participant, a guy named Cliff Young, was a 61-year-old farmer. Unlike the other athletes who were clad in professional running shoes and cool athletic wear with sponsored logos, Cliff wore a loose white shirt flopping over baggy overalls. He had rubber goulashes over his boots and a white baseball cap hung over his head with sunscreens. The officials thought it was a joke. They laughed and thought they were being set up by this guy. But Cliff was dead serious and he was ready to run. His name eventually went down in the roster, and someone pinned a number on his faded overalls. Uncertainty about Cliff continued as runners lined up to start the race. Was this older man really going to compete against young, highly trained athletes with sculpted bodies? Some still thought it was a joke, others weren’t too sure what to think of it, and some thought he was a little deranged or starting in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Some shouted insults and made fun of him. When the starting gun fired, the runners took off. The crowd laughed at the contrast between the young contestants who had these disciplined strides and Cliff’s odd shuffle. Five days later (exactly fourteen hours and four minutes later) no one was laughing. Cliff Young crossed the Melbourne finish line almost 10 hours ahead of the second place runner. The astonished press descended on Cliff in mass. How did this aging farmer accomplish this spectacular run?

Two things emerged when they did the research: First, he was a Shepard who was too poor to own a horse so he often herded entire flocks of sheep alone, running day and night. And secondly, Cliff didn’t realize that runners in the Ultra Marathon stopped at night to sleep, so he ran the entire distance without sleeping!

Cliff had the attribute of perseverance. He just kept on going. And when his competitors eased their ordeal with rest, he pushed through his exhaustion. His eyes were on the goal and nothing else mattered. He ran all the way from the beginning to the end.

Turning Ordeals into Opportunities.

Have you noticed that this quality of perseverance is in short supply? We, myself included, can give up so easily when the going gets tough, to take the easier, more predictable or safer path?

But what happens when you come face to face with reality and recognize it takes more courage to change your game plan, rather than to stay in a situation that is discouraging. Thinking of changing law firms? How would you answer if you asked yourself if you have the courage of Cliff Young?

One key may be to understand the definition of the word, persevere. “Per” means “through”, and we know what severe is. It means to go through something severe. We all have stuff we have to go through, right? But how do we change our perspective to change our ordeals into opportunities? To finish what we’ve begun, to outlast the pain of change or disappointment? To strive forward until we accomplish our goals through difficulty?

The Power of Persevering.

As parents, we want to teach our children to not give up. Coaches want to teach us, or encourage us to become stronger, using resistance, not just for physical strength, but also for emotional and mental toughness.

Perseverance is the opposite of resignation, just putting up with things the way they are, or staying in the same old rut year after year, or being a doormat for others to wipe their feet on. Perseverance is not a desperate hanging on, but instead traveling from strength to strength. Perseverance isn’t an attitude that “I’ll just get through it,” but rather, it’s triumphant, lifting your hands up high in victory!

At JAGLaw, we encourage the partners we work with to consider their options by carefully weighing their goals and objectives, but never to “Give up and give out!”

If you like the story of Cliff Young, you may enjoy clicking on this link to learn more about his story. But if you’re interested in developing your own courageous story, click on this link, teamjag@jaglaw.com, to contact a member of our team for a confidential conversation on how to reach your goals at this stage of your career.


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