Perseverance is Not Always the Answer

I enjoy reading entrepreneurial books and articles. I have a fascination with people’s passions and what makes them do what they do. I’m also a fan of research and while running a business I wanted to know more and to ensure I was doing the right things. I remember reading some quote about how success is just on the other side of feeling like giving up. Reading that advice was really detrimental for me, in fact. You see, I’m not a quitter. I persevered so much that my health collapsed. To be fair, I didn’t heed the advice in the same articles of weeding out toxic elements and doing what you love.

Just searching for quotes on perseverance, you will find hundreds of examples encouraging people not to give up. My husband and I have similar values and we are both ultra-marathon runners which, by its very nature, requires perseverance. We promote this value a lot in our household and we encourage our kids to keep trying. Perseverance is a major force in my life.

In 2008 my husband and I took a trip to Japan. We ran the Tokyo marathon together and it was an amazing experience, really different from what we are used to. We are from a culture where people bail a race if you’re not fit enough or injured. Sure, you have to face the consequences if you do, in that the other runners will not let you forget it. But most people exercise common sense when it comes to their well-being. And of course there are those who just don’t have what it takes to get through the mental struggle of an ultra-marathon. I say mental because it’s not your body that fails you towards the end of a hard race.


We found it really funny to read the race guidelines for the Tokyo marathon. Several times, it was emphasised that it takes courage to quit. The cultural difference was so striking to us. And it is true, that there are people who would rather kill themselves than fail or be seen as a failure.

I inherited an ailing business that was really too far gone. I struggled through it for almost five years, while running ultra-marathons and parenting two small children. There were a number of conditions which set me up for failure but my ingrained refusal to quit pushed me so far that my own body turned on me. Of course, internalising everything did not help but you can’t change your nature. I should have changed the conditions and opted out earlier.

One of my parenting challenges is to observe when my children are in flow and to encourage more of it. And another is to make sure they don’t overdo the perseverance. If they already have inborn and value-enforced determination, pushing them to never give up is not always
the answer.

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I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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