Perseverance > Endurance

Last week I was stopped mid-sentence by a straightforward statement from Brandon Young.

This is a comment that I can’t forget, and I hope this statement hits you with the same force as it hit me. Perseverance is always more important than endurance! (Forgive the math symbol in this headline. I couldn’t help myself.)

My mind started racing to the countless times I have seen this happen before me while training in the US military. Endurance got me through some challenging training and brutal deployments. However, what left the biggest impact on me were the lessons I learned in those circumstances.

There are three primary outcomes after a person has gone through some challenging circumstances. With these outcomes, I want to argue why perseverance (going against pain to strive for excellence) is more important than endurance (surviving pain or hardship) in the long run.

The same version of yourself

One possible outcome when facing a challenging circumstance is that it leaves you unchanged.  This is the tragic outcome of any difficult situation. I call this tragic, because difficult circumstances are almost always painful.

Why on earth would anyone want to go through challenging circumstances and not be a better person on the other end of the challenge?

Embrace the change… Sometimes we fight against the circumstances because of the changes they will bring to our lives. Change is always scary. Don’t let your fear of change prevent you from learning and growing during challenging circumstances.

A tired version of yourself

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had those circumstances that are so overwhelming that we’re just fighting to keep our head above water. Like you, I’ve had those times when I am overwhelmed by the demands of a situation. When the circumstances are this challenging, I often lose sight of the bigger picture because the needs are overwhelming. 

Endurance (getting through it) is essential; it’s just not most important!  

Being overwhelmed to the point of exhaustion is a different form of tragedy. Your ability to endure hardships can be self-defeating if you don’t learn anything during the challenges. When you are exhausted beyond your abilities to learn and grow, you place yourself in the perfect condition to repeatedly go through the same challenges.

It’s only when we learn and grow because of the challenges that we are better positioned not to go through the same difficult circumstances in the future. This is why endurance is essential, but not the most important thing!

A better version of yourself

Perseverance takes more strength than endurance. If perseverance and endurance got into a back-alley fistfight, perseverance would win every time. The difference between surviving and thriving due to difficult circumstances is how much a person learns.

I hope by now you’re starting to see the genius behind Brandon’s statement. The real benefit of going through painful, difficult circumstances is the lasting impact it can leave on you.

Perseverance is the ability to assimilate information while you endure difficulties. As a result of the information you’ve assimilated, you can respond better to similar circumstances in the future.

Don’t stay the same, and don’t just survive… THRIVE because of your challenges!

I don’t know what kind of challenging circumstances you’re going through today. But take Brandon’s advice to heart no matter the difficulties. Learn and grow during your hardships, and you will become a better person on the other end of the problems.  


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Further reading

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