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Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the June 1974 issue of the Real Estate News Observer.

There is an element in man’s makeup that seems to be formed early in his adult life. It is persistence. It can be learned. It can be improved upon. It can be acquired by someone who is motivated enough to want it. And it is something that you can tell about a person when you know him.

The people without it are walking failures in some areas of life. (I long ago decided that “success” must be defined in many different areas. When someone is described to me as successful I now ask, “In what arena?” In his work? In his married life? In his health? In his happiness? In his children? When we have defined in which areas the person is successful, then we can determine what criterion he used to define success. So must “failure” be defined in areas. For what good is it to be a success at your work but collapse of heart problems brought on by over-work, which is a failure of your health?)

Now, in each arena of life, determine what you would consider success. Write it down. If you do not meet the standards you have set, you are not successful in that area. I doubt that anyone reading this article, in this magazine, in this business, does not possess the time and the talent to accomplish success in these areas . . . the big difference will be persistence.

Calvin Coolidge said of all the men he met, those who most often won the prizes they sought were those with persistence. Harry Truman gave persistence as the number one personality trait necessary for success. “One of the most common sights in our country is a talented failure. The streets are full of them.” Talent has little to do with it. Look around you in your community — see the talented failures, they are a common sight.

Persistence must be practiced and honed so that it is an easy-to-use tool. It must not grate against the other people involved in the situation. Do not use it to anger or subdue or make a trophy of someone. But use it to ensure follow-through. When you start something that is right and good, stay on it until it is done and you have done all within your power to make it work the right way.

In exchanging and with exchangors, I see many talented people. I see people striving to perfect techniques and tools and behavior patterns that they wish to use. I see new people using the vocabulary without knowing what it means or how it is used — and I do not criticize them for this, for they are trying and reaching and persevering. It is the talented ones with the experience and the knowledge that misuse the 24 hours a day that draw my ire.

He is the one — she is the one — they are the ones, who need the perseverance — the drive — the desire — the persistence to do all things that need doing to be called a professional. The doing of the things you don’t want to do when you don’t want to do them. The desire to succeed at a level equal to your innate ability. The dream to not sell yourself short but to be what you are and do what you are capable of.

Now comes persistence — the trait trait separates the runners from the also-rans — the fisherman from the bait cutters — the world seekers from the world watchers — the lovers from those who wish to be loved — the doers from the imitators. This one trait holds the ultimate answer.

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