I have a close friend who’s been involuntarily separated from his chosen line of work for eight years. He lost his last full-time job in 2010, and he hasn’t been able to get back in the game. I asked him if he knew how many jobs he’s applied for during that time and he said that he stopped counting after 200.

I asked him why he’d stopped counting and he told me that he was keeping each and every rejection email and letter, sort of, as a motivator to continue going. But then he read an article that suggested that by keeping all those rejection letters he was subconsciously putting a negative roadblock in his brain. So, he decided to delete all the ‘No Thank You’ notes. Whenever he gets one, he reads it, dwells on it for a short bit, then crosses it off his list. Then he moves on and continues searching and applying.

There are some people who would say that my friend is wasting his time. I tell him that he has tremendous perseverance, and that he shouldn’t let anyone tell him to stop his quest.

Perseverance is defined as, “continued effort to do or to achieve something despite difficulties, failure or opposition; to continue doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.”

It’s one of my favorite qualities, and it’s a characteristic that I talk to my players about, often. In the context of my basketball teams, it can be a challenge to show up for practice and work hard if your team is on a losing streak. It can be disappointing to prepare for the big game and lose. The players that I’m impressed by are those who come back to practice the next day and work hard and prepare for the next challenge.

When you read both parts of my celebrity profile on Oprah Winfrey, the first trait I thought of is that she had tremendous perseverance. She was abandoned by her mother and father when she was in infant, she had no shoes on her feet nor regular clothes to wear to school when she was younger. Yet she continued to do well in school. Then she got pregnant as a teenager, ran away from home, and still won a speech contest to earn a scholarship to college.

The rest is, as they say history. But the other thing that is admirable about Oprah, is that once she became successful, she became one of the most philanthropic individuals of the past generation. She’s shared her wealth to help others, in many different areas. I believe she’s never forgotten what it was like to have no shoes on her feet.

When faced with a challenge or a setback in your adventure to your goals and dreams, are you going to quit, or are you going to continue work toward what it is you’re trying to accomplish?

Don’t Say, “I Can’t.”

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