At the core of most major success stories, whether it be in the martial arts, sports, business, or any other field of expertise, is one thing: perseverance. O’Sensei always taught us the lesson of, “Patience.” In the martial arts patience does not mean to simply be patient and wait for things to happen or to change. Patience means to persevere and to have an indomitable spirit, a spirit that cannot be broken. In other words, “Never give up!”

Perseverance is defined as: “Persisting in or remaining constant to a purpose, idea or task in spite of obstacles, when such persistence is congruent with higher values.”

Eleanor Roosevelt told us, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” And Henry Ford left this piece of advise, “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

One of my friends, the sensei at a wonderful dojo, tells his students, “Quitting is not an option.” He tells them this because he knows, as I do, that as a martial artist we must not stay in our comfort zone, choosing short-term relief and comfort in order to avoid the temporary discomfort of working hard and having to persist through the tough times when we might feel like quitting or giving up.

I am sure that most, if not all, highly successful people have experienced failure along their path to great success. The difference is that they see failure as an opportunity to grow and learn, rather than a reason to give up. Somehow they knew this basic truth, “Failure cannot cope with perseverance.”

One of the greatest spear masters of all time, Hozoin Inye, left us the lesson of, “Ichi-nen.” Singleness of purpose. He taught that we must set our self a goal, and we must keep focused on that goal. He taught that we are likely to experience setbacks and challenges along the way, even failures. And he told us when we experience these we must not give up, we must not “Build a case against our self,” but rather, we should persevere and continue on towards our goal. Through an unshakeable desire to succeed, perseverance takes hold and failures you have faced become mere stepping-stones on the path to your success.

In order to become successful, you must have a strong desire, which is the fuel that feeds the fire of achievement. You must have a plan of action, steps that will take you to your ultimate destination. Then to bind these together, and to ensure a recipe for success, patience, perseverance and your indomitable spirit will play the leading role in your success, because failure cannot cope with perseverance and the person who will never give up.

Life is a doing game. Doing wins. Knowing but not doing always loses. O’Sensei would tell us that, “To know and to act are one and the same.” Or as Benjamin Franklin told us, “The man who does things makes mistakes, but he doesn’t make the biggest mistake of all, doing nothing!”

So let me suggest these four short words that I believe sum up what has lifted most successful individuals above the crowd, “A little bit more.” They did all that was expected of them and, “A little bit more.”

Success in any endeavor demands more from an individual than most people are willing to offer, not more than they are capable of offering, just more than they are willing to offer. Another way of putting this is that successful people are willing to do what unsuccessful people are not.

Desire and planning is not enough. Don’t allow yourself to mistake movement for achievement. It’s easy to get faked out by simply being busy. The question is, “Busy doing what?” Here again I can hear the lessons of O’Sensei; He would say that doing is very important, but your doing must be what he called, “Right action.” That is why it is so important to have a plan, write down the steps you will take to reach your goal, and then have the singleness of purpose that Inye spoke of. The laser-sharp focus on your goal, the willingness to persevere, and that spirit that develops in you that, “Yes I can attitude. I will never give!”

We all have an opportunity to succeed, and if we grasp the concept that all we need is a strong desire, a plan of action, and a never-ending supply of patience, perseverance and that spirit that can never be broken we can become successful and achieve those things in life that will bring us true joy and happiness. Those things that so many people only dream of. Without perseverance defeat will get you before you’ve even started. With perseverance, you will emerge the ultimate winner.

Perseverance is one of the many great lessons that you will learn on your path to black belt. Never forget it.