Featured Topic: Perseverance

The term perseverance, or the quality of continuing with something even though it is difficult, was introduced in the Collins English Dictionary in 1711, and persistence was added in 1775. Nearly a century later, stickability first appeared in this dictionary in 1866, and in just the last decade, the related term grit has also been featured††. Collins now credits perseverance with being one of the 10,000 most commonly used words in their dictionary, which is quite an achievement considering the most recent print edition contains over 722,000 words!

The ability to stick with it, whether "it" be a task, goal, or other mission, is invaluable for achievement. SBP authors Zhao and Wu (2014) cited the example of Walt Disney, who persevered despite having experienced two bankruptcies and founded what these authors (and no doubt many other people!) credit as being "one of the greatest companies in the world" (p. 1346). Disney and other entrepreneurs are notable for their propensity to continue undertaking activities in the face of adversity (Zhao & Wu, 2014).

We’ve all experienced setbacks and failed to achieve what we set out to do, but what is it that makes some individuals more likely to try again, whereas others give up on a goal entirely or choose to instead focus on alternative objectives? The concept of grit, or "the drive to challenge oneself and achieve beyond what inborn abilities would account for" (Lee & Sohn, 2017, p. 1630), may provide at least a partial explanation for these different interpersonal outcomes. Lee and Sohn reported that greater grit is a significant predictor of students’ ongoing academic achievement and career preparation behavior. As such, a strong focus on long-term (as opposed to short-term) goals appears to be a characteristic of those who display higher levels of grit.

Positive outcomes of perseverance reported in other papers we’ve published include resilience (Xiong & Fang, 2014), innovation and creative self-efficacy (Hu & Zhao, 2016), proactivity and opportunity identification (Xie, Chu, Zhang, & Huang, 2014), and setting high standards for work achievement (Yang, 2013), indicating that the benefits of hanging in there and sticking with it are not confined to the work context.

Delve into our archive of research with a personal subscription! This gives you access to the more than 6,000 high-quality articles we’ve published over the last 45+ years on a wide variety of topics, including several papers featuring examinations of perseverance in all its forms. 

Perseverance. (n.d.). In Collins English dictionary online (12th ed.). Retrieved from https://bit.ly/2MpHcHI

††Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M, D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92, 1087–1101. https://doi.org/d2dc9t

The power of motivation-goal fit in predicting entrepreneurial persistence – Haifeng Zhao and Sibin Wu, 2014, 42, 1345–1352.

Effects of grit on academic achievement and career-related attitudes of college students in Korea – Suran Lee and Young Woo Sohn, 2017, 45, 1629–1642.

Authentic leadership, collective efficacy, and group performance: An empirical study in China – Hui-Bing Xiong and Ping Fang, 2014, 42, 921–932.

Creative self-efficacy mediates the relationship between knowledge sharing and employee innovation – Bei Hu and Yidan Zhao, 2016, 44, 815–826.

Proactive personality and voice behavior: The influence of voice self-efficacy and delegation – Jun Xie, Xiaoping Chu, Juncheng Zhang, and Jiaxin Huang, 2014, 42, 1191–1200.

Linking proactive personality to moral imagination: Moral identity as a moderator – Jianfeng Yang, 2013, 41, 165–176.