Lessons in Persistence From a Toddler and a One-Eyed Kitten

My son Gilad is not afraid of anything, especially animals.  As a parent, this can be daunting, because he will pick up all manner of creature and bring it to show me.  The other day he walked into the house holding a mangy, possibly feral, one eyed kitten (a week earlier, this one eyed kitten had tried to get into our house, and sat by the door meowing, but I wouldn’t let it in).  We live in the desert, in Israel, and have wild cats here (they are kind of like squirrels are to New Jersey: everywhere).

I quickly put shooed it back outside, wiped Gilad’s hands clean, and told him he couldn’t touch the one eyed kitten because it might be sick.  Needless to say, he went back outside in the yard, and within two minutes had picked up the one eyed kitten again.  Thus began the cycle of shooing the critter away and telling Gilad no.  Despite not liking what was happen, I had to admire the zeal of these two, and after the fifth or sixth time, I grabbed by camera and took this shot, realizing that the toddler and the one eyed kitten were teaching me a lesson in persistence.

There are times where I don’t want to push; whether it is pushing myself or pushing someone else, I just like things to stay to go easy.  Many of us have this attitude.  It’s drilled into American children from the minute we hit elementary school: fit in, keep the status quo, don’t rock the boat, etc.  Yet how many success stories of entrepreneurs or business giants do you read where they say, “I just kept my head down, did my job, and found myself wildly rich one day”?

In my post, Waiting for Frosting: Why Most Things Are Better When They Are Done, I mentioned Steven Pressfiled, an artist and author who often talks about the need to fight against”the lizard brain,” that part of our genetic make up that seeks an even keep to everything.  It is meant to keep us safe in the wild, looking for disturbing patterns to trigger our flight mechanism and keep us from taking stupid risks that will get us eaten by a Sabretooth Tiger.  When it comes to innovation and participating in our own success, however, the Lizard Brain can be the death of us.  It tells us things like “you are not good enough to do THAT” or “don’t bother following up too many times because people will think you are annoying.”

It is not comfortable to be persistent.  When it comes to generating new leads or business, asking for money from customers who owe you, following up with co-workers or subordinates on the status of projects, or any number of regular tasks in business the easier, more comfortable way is to keep your head down and wait for others to respond.

What Gilad and the one-eyed kitten showed me is that persistence can even break through revulsion, even if ultimately what they both wanted didn’t happen.  No, we did not keep the one-eyed kitten, and yes, I made Gilad come inside after the photo shoot.  At least the one-eyed kitten gets his 15-minutes of fame on my blog with this scary shot (see why I wanted to get rid of it?).

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