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Lessons from Childhood: Persistence

March 20, 2013

I put two bows in my daughter’s hair today. She – being 15 months old and not inclined to making my life easier – immediately pulled them out. She said they were “cute,” and sat looking at them in her hands. I put them back in her hair, and told her “no touch.” She pulled them back out. I put them back in. You see where this is going.

Somewhere along the way (after, admittedly, far too many attempts for a reasonable person), I started to realize the futility of my position. She was going to be alone with her hair and her arms at some point during the day. She had made her desires clear and, through persistence, she won.

I wonder if this quiet persistence might be the answer to more serious problems – the way to enforce your position without triggering defensiveness. Making your voice heard does not equate to screaming, elaborate protestations, extremism, or brute force (though these things may be called for, in certain circumstances). Your voice is the difference you make by being true to yourself, saying what you have to say with certainty, and repeating it until you wear down the opposition. In this battle, the Irresistible Force Paradox trumps the layman’s definition of insanity; you may think that repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is crazy – until something gives.

Be irresistible. Say what you have to say. Then say it again, if you have to. Be sure of yourself, and persist.

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