A French Bulldog is a special kind of dog. It’s stubborn, always hungry (yet selective) and has an unlimited amount of energy – until it finds a cozy spot. When it does, the Frenchie can snooze for an unlimited amount of time completely neglecting its bladder. The French Bulldog is generally more interested in fellow humans than fellow dogs. Fellow humans? Yes, I am 100% sure, that French Bulldogs believe they are human. Maybe that’s why you can learn a whole lot from them.
This installment explains what my French Bulldog taught me about persistence. You can learn a great deal of awesome things from your Frenchie, but persistence is one of its key attributes. It’s also one of the attributes I lack myself. Here’s how my Frenchie helped me.
Persistence doesn’t equal Patience
Persistence is understood as the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people. Usually, this implies that you will have to keep on doing what you’re doing for a longer amount of time to get what you want. You will most likely need some patience, however, the core of persistence is the principle: you want something, so you keep fighting for it. No giving up. This can involve trying different ways to reach your goal, working harder or simply trying some more.
The French Bulldog is not patient
Most people think of patience when they are confronted with persistence. It goes hand in hand. The French Bulldog does not however, believe in patience. In fact, it’s very impatient. So instead of being patient, the French Bulldog tries different methods to reach its goal. The longer it takes to reach its goal, the more measures a Frenchie will take.
Example: Our French Bulldog Murphy loves eating human food. Every morning before we have breakfast, we fill up her bowl of dog food. However, because she knows we will soon be eating breakfast she doesn’t eat her food, but instead, waits for us to start with our breakfast (Step 1). Once we start eating, Murphy sits quietly beside the table and stares at us, following every bite we take with her head (Step 2). If this doesn’t result in us dropping a piece of cheese, she moves on to her bowl of food, sniffs it, takes a bite or two and then goes back to sitting very close to the table and looking even more demanding (Step 3). Usually, 5 minutes have passed now, and Murphy’s impatience shows. She is hungry after all. She will start walking around and whimpering a bit (Step 4). Maybe she will jump one of us and try to peak onto the table (Step 5). She will relentlessly sniff underneath and around the table for crumbles (Step 6). Then she will repeat all these steps over again in a different order until finally – one of us gives up and gives her a piece of whatever we’re eating. For Murphy, this means she has reached her goal. She can finally eat her dog food (she’s hungry after all) and then go back to bed or – and this is more likely – start focussing on her next goal (which usually is throwing balls in the park).
Less patience, more measures
The fact that Murphy isn’t patient forces her to become more creative and quicker at trying different methods. I believe this is something very important in a business context or any context that involves trying to reach a (hard) goal. Patience, of course, is a great quality, however, it becomes damaging if it is relied on. You might end up wasting time, missing out on an opportunity or focussing on different goals.
At work I try to test different methods constantly, switching things up almost every day to reach my goals. Of course, closing deals involves a great amount of patience as well, however, I believe that only relying on it will not bring me forward. A/B-testing things can cost me extra work hours and nerves, lead to failure or decrease my budget. On the other hand, trying out different things is the only way to get lucky and potentially reach my goal faster. The only thing I need to do is to be persistent about my goal. Just like my Frenchie.
The French Bulldog stays focused
Being persistent has to do a lot with being focused. If you focus on too many different things, you’ll have a hard time at reaching any goal. Focus on what you believe is the most important and prioritize it. Murphy likes going for walkies or playing with her ball, but getting food from the table is always her top priority. She manages to stay 100% focussed on this and therefore usually get’s what she wants. She’s willing to put in the extra effort and stay persistent.
Now at work, I have a bunch of tasks besides closing deals. Closing deals, however, is my main goal. Though I enjoy playing around with Facebook ads and content marketing, only closing deals can dramatically change my income and make my bosses happy. Therefore I always try to keep it the top priority. If you know me, you know I can easily get distracted by writing e.g. a white paper. Then I think about Murphy’s determination to get a piece of my morning cheese and remember what’s really important.
Persistence involves Failure
Some mornings, no matter how hard Murphy tries, she doesn’t get any beloved human food (usually this is the case when we decide to try to spoil her less). Even though this is gut-wrecking for her and usually means that she will refuse all dog food for the rest of the day, she always gets back on track with the next meal. She repeats every step over and over, excelling, making her passion more apparent, until eventually, she reaches her goal again. This means that even if she gets disappointed, she won’t give up and will always try again. A great lesson of true persistence.
My French Bulldog taught me that persistence is key to reaching any goal. However, patience is not the only way to be persistent. Instead, it’s a motivator to pushing you towards trying different methods to reach a goal faster. You can only be persistent if you focus on what’s important. My French Bulldog taught me, that even if you want to do other things or reach different goals, being persistent with your main goal is vital. After reaching it, you can focus on your next priorities in line. My French Bulldog has taught me that failing once doesn’t have to mean your methods are wrong and that it should never keep you from trying again.