One of my former art teachers, Mrs. Frey, liked to say “sticktoitiveness” when doing individual coaching among her students. For instance, my acrylic paintings always looked far too dark, even those that depicted daytime scenes. It was never my intent to create dark paintings. My problem mainly concerned which colors and how they were mixed on the palette. Mrs. Frey reiterated the basics time and again to me and patiently urged me to let go of my fear of experimentation. With enough conscientious diligence my techniques would improve. I just needed more sticktoitiveness. To my ears, the word had a vaguely nineteenth century sound that contrasted with my teacher’s avant-garde demeanor and style. The lighthearted manner of her teaching techniques and her use of such terminology made her lessons memorable.
I interpreted her definition of sticktoitiveness as being a virtue. It is not a virtue practiced in the uptight, harsh manner that one thinks of when hearing a typical teacher use the words: diligence, discipline, and willpower. There’s a sense of puritanical plainness, and moralism when the conventional words for perseverance are used in a classroom setting. On the other hand, sticktoitiveness is a word that feels happy and truly morale building. A mentor or teacher who uses this word implies support with a smile. A person who advises one to practice sticktoitiveness is a helpful ally. She or he hopes you will believe in yourself, be dedicated, and have a healthy measure of pride in one’s abilities. Such perseverance will generally yield happy results. It stands on the line between obsession and dedication.
It seems to me that sticktoitiveness is a matter of being active instead of being passive in one’s work. It involves belief in oneself, dedication, determination, hard work, and vision with the added wisdom of flexibility, mindfulness, and open mindedness. It is a matter of activating one’s dreams with a healthy dose of focus.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”–Vince Lombardi
What would a weekend motivational blog post be without a Vince Lombardi quote? He was the ideal sort of coach who I wish would have taught my high school’s phys. ed. class. He embodied sticktoitiveness without resorting to the buzzwords, favoritism, hype and jargon my phys, ed. teachers used. In my mind, Lombardi would have been able to motivate nerds like me to better appreciate physical activity, and organized sports. I probably would not have dreaded phys. ed. class nearly as much. Just the thought of Vince Lombardi teaching sophomore high school phys. ed. class at Wayne (Nebraska) High School makes me grin. I’m sure my life would have turned out differently.
Lombardi would most likely downplay his fame and outward greatness. He would probably place the stress on consistency and mindful, hard work. With this sticktoitiveness style, high school phys. ed. teachers anywhere could enjoy more successful teaching careers and more engaged students. Such a class would be more than a mere mandatory requirement for graduation. The lessons learned in such phys. ed. classes would most likely carry over into other fields of endeavor. Having Mr. Lombardi as phys. ed. coach would be like Mrs. Frey teaching art class.
Basically, an important key to accomplishing a meaningful goal is sticktoitiveness. When we approach life in this manner, we do so without clenched teeth and self-punishing harshness. We can undertake the most difficult tasks with a bit of a spring in our step. With sticktoitiveness, life doesn’t have to be an unpleasant ordeal. A lot of people simply do not understand the importance of this concept.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes novelist and an associate professor of English at Tulane University, Jesmyn Ward. ““Success is not the result of making one good choice, of taking one step. Real success requires step, after step, after step, after step. It requires choice after choice, it demands life-long education and passion and commitment and persistence and hunger and patience.”