The iconic book by Napoleon Hill, “Think and Grow Rich”, includes a true story about a man who searched for the mother lode during the California Gold Rush. The story goes that a man caught by the “gold fever” went out west to pursue his dream to dig for gold and make a fortune.

With his basic tools, he began the hard work of digging and digging day in and day out. After a ton of labor, he discovered a vein of gold ore and needed machinery to bring it to the surface. He got the machinery and the drilling began.

Things were going well. He found a bit of gold and was sure he had landed upon one of the richest mines and would make a killing from it.

But then, one day something happened. The vein of gold ore had mysteriously disappeared! Frantic and desperate, he drilled and drilled to try to find it to no avail.

It wasn’t long before he gave up in frustration because he was convinced that he could not find the mother lode he was searching for. He sold the machinery to a junk man and abandoned his dream.

That junk man brought in a mining engineer for his expertise and lo and behold, the huge deposit of gold was just three feet from where the first man had stopped drilling! Literally three feet.

The man who had given up was so close to the millions of dollars of gold that he could have reached out and touched it.

This story illustrates the importance of being persistent despite the obstacles.  And persistence is the key inner game quality that will distinguish you from others.

When we talk about distinguishing ourselves from our peers, competition and the masses, we have to do what most others don’t do. The majority of people lack persistence because when faced with defeat, difficulty or misfortune, the easiest and most common thing to do is to quit, and we see this is especially true when it comes to business development.

Ironically, just like the man who stopped short of his fortune three feet from it, so many lawyers stop short right before they’re about to transform their hard work into success.

They give up because they feel uncomfortable about “putting themselves out there” or with the new skills they need to develop to be a successful rainmaker. They give up because they don’t want to be judged or somehow look incompetent.  They give up because they think that they don’t have the right personality for it or that they won’t be able to have a life. They give up because they don’t get traction or momentum early on and feel like they will never improve or conquer their fears. They give up because they don’t “see” results quickly enough and they get tired of trying or doubt if it will ever happen.

A lack of persistence or “giving up too soon” is one of the most common reasons for failure.  It’s critical not to lose faith right before you make that big breakthrough.

With a weight loss program, for example, you can at least see some measurable progress like pounds lost or your clothes fitting better. In becoming a solid business developer, many professionals get frustrated if they don’t see some kind of tangible results quickly like getting new clients or referrals.

Because business development takes time and is a process of reaching many micro goals in order to reach the ultimate goals, many don’t realize just how much progress they are actually making or how much closer they are to developing new business.

So how can you cultivate persistence?  You may have also heard this referred to as mental toughness.

  1. First and foremost, know what you want and why.

  2. Have clear, measurable goals you’re aiming towards.

  3. Accept that problems and setbacks will happen and in fact, expect them!  When they happen, let yourself acknowledge them, but then get back on track as quickly as possible. It’s about shortening the time it takes between the moment when things don’t go well to the point of jumping back in and getting back on the horse, so to speak.

  4. Adopt a positive mindset, which is closed tightly to all negative and discouraging influences, including negative suggestions of relatives, friends, and other critics. This includes celebrating small wins and progress and recognizing that you are continuing to improve.

  5. Surround yourself with the right support – people who believe in you and who will encourage you, better yet – people who have achieved what you want; don’t be afraid to ask for help which many professionals feel can be a weakness, but is truly a strength.

  6. Develop empowering habits and establish daily actions. Schedule it or it won’t happen. Motivation is fickle. Willpower comes and goes. Persistence isn’t about getting an incredible dose of inspiration or courage. It’s about building the daily habits that allow you to stick to your goals and overcome challenges and distractions over and over and over again.

  7. Take notice and tweak. In other words, learn and try again!  If failure knocks you down, find out how it happened, learn how to avoid it in the future, and try again.  Failures are just lessons pointing you toward success.

If you are to become a successful rainmaker, the key is to persevere through difficulties and stay focused despite all obstacles.