Doggone Persistence

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Alfie, a 7 year old Springer Spaniel. He walked in confident, leading his human guardian into the consultation room. Within minutes, while I was chatting with his guardian, he carried his ball and set it in front of my feet. The message was clear. In the silence, he was shouting, “Ball please!” As I continued the conversation and ignored him, he was prancing around playfully, tail wagging like its got a life of its own, astute eyes watching closely, not taking his sight of my hands and me. I relented after 10 seconds and threw the ball just one metre away (the consultation room is not that big!). Alfie jumped (I mean jumped!) half a metre off the ground, spun round, dashed to the ball and brought it back to my feet within seconds. “Again!”, I heard his bright eyes cry. I resisted, focusing on asking his guardian the reason of the visit. Would Alfie take ‘no’ for an answer? Of course not! He pleaded, cajoled, teased, whined, flirted, pushed and insisted until I gave in and threw the ball again… and again… and again… and again. The persistence of Alfie is instructive.

I reflected upon myself how often do I persist to achieve what I want and how often do I give up at the first sign of rejection and resistance? I remember how after the first year at Vet College, my father told me my college funds had ran out due to his bankruptcy and I had to sort out the rest of the monies needed for the next four years. I remember how I failed three times in major exams in college in my first, third and final year of college. I remember the multiple times when I got rejected looking for a job. I remembered all the “No, that is impossible” I heard when I wanted to set up a vet practice. I remember the resistance I faced when I introduced new ideas to the practice. More importantly, I remember how I overcame every single obstacle listed above by not giving up.

However, I also remember the time when I failed to achieve satisfaction in a pet guardian though his pet recovered. I remember how I had let my fellow army brothers down when I failed to execute a mission properly. I remember how I failed my exams by insufficient preparation. I remember the challenges I gave up because it was too difficult. I remember giving up playing the guitar when my father was trying to teach me. So, I know the feeling of giving up. Though it may seem ‘acceptable’ at that time because of circumstances or whatever reasons (or excuses) we came up with. Over time, it does accumulate and can become a habit if we are not aware.

I think back to Alfie. His basic drive and commitment that says, “I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t care how stupid I look. I don’t care if you ignore me. I don’t care I am not getting results now. I don’t care how impossible it looks. I don’t care the solution may not be obvious. I will persist on until I get the results I want.” Children are not dissimilar. They are persistent, relentless and committed to achieving their goals when they set their mind to them, especially the younger ones. I humbly and gratefully take this lesson of Persistence from Alfie and children. Every time I see a dog or a child, I reflect upon my challenges and remind myself of the persistence I have in me to demand the results I want. Never give up. Never give in.

‘If you are going through hell, keep going.’ – Winston Churchill

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