A Gift of Perserverance

When I was seventeen I was a sophomore in college at UW-Milwaukee. I worked full time five days per week at a Big Boy restaurant on Kilbourn street in Milwaukee. Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I had off from work and on those days I walked to campus where I fit in a full course load between 9AM and 9PM. The employee break room at the restaurant was like many diner break rooms-kind of dark and cluttered. Amidst the clutter was an old brown piece of wood with a fake-gold plaque mounted on it. The plaque read:

Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Calvin Coolidge

As a young teen, I know many people thought I would not succeed in life. I even read the magazines that shared statistics of how “un-bright” my future looked. These people and the “accredited news magazines” relied on “facts” some of which included: being raised in a single parent home (my dad left when I was eight-months old), being in a small town, being in “poverty” (while other people had more money, I dare you to find a house equal in love). These sources relied on statistics, I relied on heart.

The first time I read that quote I remember deciding it needed to be polished and dusted. I carefully cleaned it, reading it a second time, and then gave it a more prominent position in the break room. I read that quote many times over during every break I had. While I may not have been raised with every advantage in the world, I was taught the biggest advantage of all: Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance.

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