The Persistence Program

My Oxford Dictionary App defines Persistence as “the fact of continuing in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.”

This definition may feel particularly pertinent at this precise moment in our collective chiropractic experience. From the conversations I’ve had with colleagues over the last few weeks, I am hearing an array of responses: some of us are energised and excited by the current state of play and can’t wait to step up to the plate, all the way through to those of us who are angry, scared, or even worse, just don’t want to play this game at all anymore.

What can we do to cultivate the inner strength, the grit, to achieve what we want for our lives, our profession, and those of whom we serve? Research tells us that grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals” and that grit is the most reliable predictor of success, and is actually more important than intelligence.1. (Whew, saved by science.)

So to be successful, it turns out we don’t need to be smart, we just need to keep on going. I’m sure that sounds okay to all of you out there doing Tough Mudder and Cross Fit until you regurgitate your kale smoothies into the dirt, but how do the rest of us get gritty? It turns out Professor Andrea Duckworth has researched it (Very sciencey of me to find this.)2. and grit comes down to just five things:

1. Pursue what interests you. Let’s be honest, if you don’t really like it, you aren’t very likely to stick with it, are you? So I like it so far: do more of the things you like (See point 3, below).

2. Do deliberate practice. Which means working on weaknesses and making improvements, not shonky, “she’ll be right” and “I’ll look at Facebook whilst I do it” practice. As we used to say in softball, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect.” (Imagine eleven hormone-fuelled girls screaming that in your face every training session. If that doesn’t make you gritty, I don’t know what will.)

3. Find purpose. And this means having a greater sense and meaning to your work. It might even be what separates a job from a vocation. What does your work bring to the world? If the vision is big enough and exciting enough, it’s easier to stay until the final siren (Ohhh how this one warms my heart. Statement of Purpose review anyone?).

4. Have hope. This means not just sitting around hoping things will be better some day/ some how, due to factors outside our control, or because you adopted some slogan from Pinterest, but more of a gritty type of hope, that believes that our very own actions can improve the future. That tomorrow will be better because we will make it so.

5. Join a group of fellow grit-masters. Perhaps my Mum was right when she used to trot out all those old sayings like, “Birds of a feather, flock together.” In fact, Jim Rohn is often quoted as saying that we come to be the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So finding a team of people we would love to be like could be a resourceful strategy.

We can overlay Professor Duckworth’s work with what we know about The In8 Model 3. and the game of life.

Quadrant 1: Why? Having a meticulously refined and useful plan behind what we do. Which would hopefully, be a purpose we can’t wait to live.

Quadrant 2: What? Create blueprint, and then practice it, making corrections as  you go. In the words of our Quest Marketing Guru, Paula, “Just wing it. Something is better then nothing… and then make appropriate corrections as you go.” With appropriate checking an efficient strategy will result.

Quadrant 3: How, and who with? A great team of like-minded people can often do so much more than an individual, when they are on purpose and have well defined ethics that serve the world.

Quadrant 4: What else, and when? This echoes the desire to get things done, and the knowledge that we can do it. In the words of William H. Johnsen, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”


So how are you going on the persistence project? Are you ready to get down and gritty and get the job done?

After all, they do say it takes a bit of grit to make a pearl.

Let’s make a whole treasure chest.


-Alison Asher




1. Pink, Daniel. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. 2011, Riverhead Books.

2. Duckworth, Anglea. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. 2016, Scribner.

3. Postles, Mark. The In8 Model. 2011. Self Published.