Perseverance vs. Persistence Forrest Gump Style

by Steve Weber aka Forrest Gump (used with permission)

Previously I wrote about Forrest Gump and Perseverance; today let’s focus on Persistence and the relationship between the two behaviors.  What is the difference between persistence and perseverance? After all, they are both defined similarly as ‘a steadfast pursuit of some course of action or purpose in spite of opposition, obstacles, or difficulties’. They are clearly synonyms.

Persistence means sticking to a course of action, while Perseverance involves sticking to a belief or idea. So in my mind, perseverance is the macro- (the big picture) while persistence is the micro- (the details). One must be steadfast in the pursuit of his dreams and major goals as one must be steadfast in accomplishing the specific tasks necessary to achieve those goals. In both cases, there will likely be many obstacles and difficulties.

Let’s examine a few examples of Forrest Gump’s persistent nature.

Example #1

Shrimp Boat Captain. While Forrest persevered to become a successful shrimp boat captain, examples of his persistence include: daily trips out on the water lowering his nets despite many unsuccessful trips at the beginning; staying with the boat and riding out a crazy storm; and even praying for shrimp when nothing else seemed to work. Individually these actions show Forrest’s persistence. Collectively they show his perseverance.

 Example #2

Ping-Pong Champion.  Forrest’s perseverance made him a ping-pong champion. But his persistence included: practicing daily for hours at a time; hitting hundreds and probably thousands of ping-pong balls into the bed pan; hitting the ball first with his right hand and then with his left hand. Persistence could be considered a daily pursuit of actions or tasks while perseverance is measured in weeks, months, years or even a lifetime.

Example #3

Friendship with Jenny. Forrest persevered over his lifetime to maintain and cultivate his friendship and eventual marriage with Jenny. He persisted by: writing many letters to her when he was in the army; visiting her at her college and then again when on leave from the army; and finally visiting her in Savannah during the trip when he first meets Little Forest. Forrest persevered throughout his life in his relationship with Jenny, while being persistent with countless single acts of kindness over that time period.

Perseverance is one of the many character traits that Forrest Gump possessed. Forrest’s daily persistence enabled him to persevere towards his life dreams and goals.

Think about persevering toward your goals and dreams … and being persistent with your daily to-do list.

Steve Weber is a professional speaker who delivers interactive, live, and motivational programs. Steve’s programs use the wit and wisdom of Forrest Gump for a fun and memorable event! Steve has worked for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. since 1996. Steve Weber / www.speakinggump.com
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