Growthink Blog

Calvin Coolidge Was Almost Right


For many years, I had a poster on my wall with a quote from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th American President. Coolidge believed persistence was the most important attribute you can have.

He said:


"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

It's hard to argue with Coolidge on this point. In fact, many great entrepreneurs and inventors ultimately succeeded via persistence. In fact, if they hadn't stuck it out, life today would certainly be different.

What if Thomas Edison gave up on his idea for a light bulb after it failed the first 2,000 times?  Or if Milton Hershey called it quits after failing with two candy businesses and being on the verge of bankruptcy?

But persistence by itself, may still not be enough.

Another key element that entrepreneurs need is great confidence.

What if patent clerk Albert Einstein was afraid to look foolish for presenting his theories about the universe?

Or if Michelangelo decided against painting the Sistine Chapel because he had never painted al fresco?

Or if Walt Disney gave up after being fired as a newspaper editor for a "lack of imagination."

Or if Henry Ford called it quits because experts said he didn't have the capital to compete in the automobile industry?

Confidence and persistence do go hand-in-hand, as oftentimes entrepreneurs persist because they are so confident in themselves.

There is a third key element, however, that combines with confidence and persistence, that helps ensure big time success - knowledge.

Einstein certainly knew a lot about science. Hershey knew a ton about candy. Ford knew volumes about automobiles. And Edison truly understood electricity.

Fortunately for several of these entrepreneurs, they were able to raise capital from friends and family members. But, if this capital wasn't available to them, then they would have also required a deep knowledge of how to raise capital, or they never would have achieved the successes they did.

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