Values put to the test: does perseverance really help?

Values put to the test: does perseverance really help?

Some months ago, when we had to explain what perseverance was to Alma, we could not have imagined that our own perseverance was going to be put to the test so much.

It could be said that everything started last year, at the beginning of summer, when 4-year-old Alma fell in love with a hoop fit for a princess that was on sales promotion in a shop, one of those “Hula Hoops” that you twist around your waist.  It was so beautiful and such a bargain that I did not hesitate in buying her it.  I thought that my daughter would be so thrilled with her new hula hoop, but her happiness lasted about as long as it took me to give her it.  She had scarcely put it around her waist when she saw how it immediately fell to the ground, and I knew then that we were going to have problems.

Indeed, she tried a few more times, and on seeing that the hula hoop did not spin around her on its own she exploded with frustration and started to cry, “There’s something wrong with this hula hoop! It doesn’t work! It falls to the ground!  Aaaarrrggghhh!”.  It seems that in her mind she had imagined a kind of magic ring that would dance happily and harmoniously around her.  I tried to calm her down by saying: “don’t worry, you have to move your waist, the hula hoop doesn’t move on its own, you do it like this, look…” and I put it around my waist to show her how to do it.

Huge mistake.

It seems that mass hysteria clouded my judgment and in my delusion I thought that I was going to do it like Shakira. But it turns out that I am neither the same size nor weight, and nor do I move like I used to the last time I played with a hula hoop more than 20 years ago (hmm… more than 30 to be really honest). Obviously I could not do it either, even though I moved, in an apparently not very harmonious way because the whole shop laughed, the hula hoop fell to the floor and the temper tantrum was unleashed: “You see! It doesn’t work!

As best as I could, I picked up the hula hoop and my dignity from the floor and we went home to practice. We could not do it there either.  So, I started to explain the importance of practice, patience and perseverance to Alma.  She understood the idea of practice very well, and she also accepted the idea of having patience and trying again every time the hula hoop fell to the ground, but the idea of persevering seemed a joke to her:

Alma: “But mamma, are you telling me that I won’t be able to do it well today even if I practice all day and I’m patient and I don’t cry if it falls to the floor but try again?  That I have to do it for a lot of days?  How many?”
Me: “I don’t know how many, as many as it takes…”
Alma: “Until tomorrow?  Until my birthday?”
Me: “Maybe, it all depends on how much you practice …”
Alma: “But I am practicing! And how come you could do it when you were little and now you can’t?”
Me: “Well, it’s been a long time since I practiced …”
Alma: “And why don’t you practice? Don’t you have any patience or perseverance?”

It is incredible how much relief and happiness a child’s most insignificant achievement can produce

Fortunately, no more than a week went by before Alma was able to keep the hula hoop spinning around up to 5 times. It was an historical event.  We were all crazy with excitement.  We called the grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, we made a video, took photos, had a big celebration, and I thanked god that Alma had been able to do it. I could not imagine the same old song all summer of “there’s something wrong with this hula hoop…

That whole experience made us think about building an app that explained the power of perseverance to small children.  But it seems that we tempted fate when we assumed that we could “teach” perseverance without demonstrating it ourselves, because as soon as we started to plan what the app would be like we began to be confronted by a series of situations and setbacks that left us without the liquidity to be able to continue with the project.

We were about to give up…

One afternoon, after coming across the millionth obstacle to the project, Alma heard us talking about how maybe the time had come to leave the development of apps for infants to one side in order to find other sources of income. So, she came closer and asked me: “Mamma, Aren’t we going to do the “Alma and the Great Concert” app anymore?” -We had given it this name- and I replied that for now no because things were not going well.  She responded: “but mamma, when I couldn’t make the hula hoop spin you told me that I had to do it until I could, and that I had to continue even if it fell to the floor many times and for many days and that it would definitely work out for me in the end … ¿do you see? That’s why you can’t do the hula hoop, because you stopped trying before you could.

And she walked off as cool as a cucumber.

It was like a stake through the heart.  What a wise child, oh my god, she comes out with stuff that leaves me speechless.  I was shocked to the core, she made me understand that abandoning this project would not only affect me very negatively on an emotional level, but that it would also be a bad example to set my children, especially Alma, who was extremely committed to creating the story, the games and the characters. What she said made me think and injected me with immense strength.  How could we quit persevering when what we wanted to do was build an app about perseverance?  As Alma always says, that’s the world turned upside down”.

That marked a turning point in our lives

we had to decide whether to change direction or continue along the same path.  And we have taken the riskiest decision:  to go with the project of our dreams, that comes from our hearts, that allows us to work together as a family, that excites the very same children who inspired it, and us, who see ourselves doing it for a lifetime.

So, we decided to give perseverance one more go

It is our obligation if we want to build an app on this subject.  We made a list of all the problems and obstacles we had at the time and began to look for the solutions to each one of them.  We have been able to solve almost all of them, except for the biggest one:  we do not have the funds to produce the app.  That is why we have chosen to keep on persevering and run a crowdfunding campaign to see if we manage to raise the 22,500€ we require.

This is what we are doing right now, inviting all of our friends, family members, acquaintances, and anyone interested in the project to help us develop the App “Alma and the Great Concert” by making a financial contribution of any size. The first app has received such good reviews that we are confident that we will have many collaborators.

Does crowd funding work? I truly hope so. And even if we achieve our goal, we will definitely be confronted by new challenges before being able to see the app on the market.  Nevertheless, we are going to persevere from the very beginning and that is a fact, and I am going to record the results of this exercise in faith and perseverance from the beginning, right now, when everything is uncertain and success is not guaranteed.  I want to do it, not only because it might be a real demonstration of the power of perseverance, but also because it might provide those who accompany us on the journey with a lot to reflect upon. Some proof also of the power of perseverance for adults.

What do you think about perseverance?  If you believe we have taken the right decision, support us in this process.  You can do it in many ways: with a financial contribution of any quantity or by helping us to promote this campaign, by buying the “Alma and the Doll in the Park” app, Reviewing and recommending it to your friends if you like it, or by simply accompanying us along the way.  Good intentions and best wishes are a great encouragement.  Subscribe to our Newsletter and follow us closely as we practice our belief in the power of perseverance.

Whatever you think, let us know in our comments section!

Andrea founded the "Alma´s Powers" project in 2012 with her brother and her husband. She is an entrepreneurial publicist/media and communications professional and proud mother of a 4-year-old girl and a 2-year-old boy who have given a different meaning to her world. In 2009 her daughter Alma was born, and with her so was Andrea´s desire to dedicate all of her knowledge and experience to the development of content that brings children closer to technology in a healthy way. Now, she is dedicated to creating tools that help preschool children’s parents to pass on family values to them and to develop their emotional intelligence.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. RHEA MORALES

    I checked out your website and I think your cause is fascinating. I tried to subscribe to your newsletter but for some reason, the website thinks I’m Spanish even though I put down English. Perhaps you can check that and get back to me?

  2. prabhat chauhan

    Yes . I believe if you have perseverance to do anything, you have achieved half way without doing anything .
    This is what really makes difference between one who is successful and one who not .

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Thank you very much for your comments :)
      Raj and Prabhat, you are so right, I know that perseverance is the key for success in everything, but sometimes it seems to difficult to keep persevering. Fear and uncertainty are the worst enemies of perseverance, and we must learn to defeat them to continue to persevere, that’s the hard part for me…
      Rhea, thank you for telling me this problem, I´ll check it and come back to you, I would love to have you on my mailing list :)

  3. Becky

    Our son just finished his book ‘To Chase a Dream’ http://www.tochaseadream.com that has perseverance written all over it. Co-Written by Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Tribune journalist Ted Gregory, it tells the true story of our son’s near-impossible desire to play soccer at the national powerhouse-Indiana University-a kid who was told time after time that he simply wasn’t good enough and never would be.

    As his parents we were involved (or so we thought) in every aspect of his dream, and yet we had no idea what he was going through-on an emotional level-until we read his story. Perseverance was his most prevalent value-but his belief in never giving up and the humility to not believe what others said he could never accomplish-became his sustaining mantra.
    One of his favorite quotes is from the movie ‘Dumb and Dumber’ where Jim Carey was asking a beautiful girl if he could date her. Her response was ‘Your chances of me going on a date with you are one in a million.” Jim replied, “Great,you’re saying I have a chance?” That’s all our son ‘Paul ‘Whitey’ Kapsalis ever asked for. A chance.
    It’s one thing to fulfill a dream when you control the outcome. It’s another to fulfill a dream at the discretion of others.

    Paul generously credits us with teaching him that ‘anything worthwhile is worth working for.” While we appreciate his generous thoughts – he had to do the work. We believed in him, we tried to be the catalysts for him to reach his dreams, but he lived, and to this day, as a father of three children-lives a desirable, exemplary life.

    You can buy the book on Amazon.com TO CHASE A DREAM -A SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP, AN UNLIKELY HERO AND A JOURNEY THAT REDEFINED WINNING by Paul ‘Whitey’ Kapsalis and Ted Gregory.
    Hugs!

    Becky.

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Thank you Becky, that´s a wonderful story, sounds very inspiring, I´ll buy the book! When you feel overwhelmed or scared about future, this kind of books and experiences help a lot to motivate and continue persevering, please say thanks to your son for writing so a great book!

  4. Madhvamunirao Sandhyavandanam

    It is very important to know that two major factors for the behavior are 1.Instinct and inherited genetic memory. 2. Acquired knowledge-direct and indirect. Perseverance is natural with exceptions, in the behavior related to the factor. In the second category, ‘will’ plays important role for perseverance. Knowledge, desire and choice determine the will. The results are best if it is one’s own motive drives the behavior and the resultant action(s). If the image or other’s perception drives the behavior and the resultant action(s), the role of anxiety and fear influences the results. Children to be encouraged to increase their faculty of observation and increased span of attention. Encourage better involvement with knowledge inputs they themselves can access and put it to optimum ease of doing and the results. Nothing succeeds like recognition and reward. Recognition during the process of activity and engagement and a better understanding of the reward results in children to persevere without the anxiety and fear.

  5. Barbara Wallace

    I agree with you Caroline. You cannot teach perseverance; really not even to adults. Perseverance is highly related to one’s clarity of intention – or as you stated “a strong enough desire to fulfill a need.”. Modeling perseverance in your own life and modeling the satisfaction success-due-to-perseverance brings is one possible indirect way of “teaching” it. Also, when anyone demonstrates perseverance on their own initiative, that can be reinforced by some positive comments.

  6. Caroline

    I think we miss the point with education.
    Do we have to teach children to persevere when they learn to walk? No they fall and get back up and try again, because they need and desire to.
    Bowlby would call this goal orientated behaviour- a child moves towards what it needs ( in this case he was talking about proximity) . Therefore if there is a strong enough desire to fulfill a need by persevering, then it is natural to want to persevere. Why are we expecting children to persevere with what we, as adults, have decided is a directed goal ?
    I say- make the task interesting, fun and less pressurising, and don’t expect all children to have the same attitude to one activity.
    I gave up teaching , because it lost its soul when children became a statistic to show how well or otherwise a school was performing.

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Thank you Barbara and Caroline for your comments. I totally agree with you Caroline when you say that perseverance is natural in children when they learn to walk, for example. But I think that at some point we lose the ability to persevere naturally. Children begin to be impatient for results of things that they want, and that’s also normal. Maybe you can not teach a child to persevere, but you can teach him to control the emotions that hinder perseverance. Helping a child to develop their emotional intelligence is a good way to teach him to persevere, don`t you think?

  7. Rahul

    This is the biggest problem. People think that success lies in doing complex things in life actually success lies in very simple things in life. Perseverance comes through experience and why would any one want children to kill their innocence when they are children. Rat Race is very obvious but it should not kill the innocence of children. Creativity, Patience, Contentment, Innovativeness, Open minded ness, Belongingness and Humanity should be ingrained perseverance would come automatically with time and experience. :-)

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Thank you Katherine for sharing this post! And thank you for your advice :)
      I find your work very interesting, if there´s anything you thing I can help you with, please feel free to ask! We don´t have funds right now, but we love to support projects like yours. We firmly believe that we can make a real change through collaboration :)

      Best wishes!

  8. Susan

    Perseverance is a vital skill four our kids to excel in life. By pushing on during life’s temporary obstacles, we discover how to focus and concentrate on how to achieve our goals.

    My first born son, Jason, learned the value of perseverance. Born with a rare birth disorder, he grew up regularly visiting medical professionals. Special physical needs kids live an improved quality of life when we as parents help them persevere through life’s unexpected challenges.

    Anyway, one time we were sitting outside a medical laboratory waiting for him to give yet another blood sample. He really disliked needles (as we all do) and objected to being stuck once again. He was about 7 at the time and said, “I’m going to regret this.”

    I chuckled and said, “We’re going to get through this just like we’ve gotten through all the other doctor visits. You can do it! I’ll be right here cheering you on.”

    He was silent a minute and then said, “Mom, what does regret mean?”

    “Feeling sorry about doing something.”

    He pondered my statement for a few seconds and said, “Yep, I’m going to regret this.”

    I chuckled again once he really understood what the word meant. I admire him for persevering through all his challenges while he was alive. As a result of him persevering through that event, we got the test results we needed to know to improve the quality of life for him via adjusting heart medication levels.

    Teaching kids perseverance helps them move forward in life and achieve goals. I think this is a very worthwhile project and I have an idea that I think will help you raise your funds. Please email me and let’s chat!

    Susan Fox
    Brain Dialog Researcher
    Author, The Coma Whisperer (Amazon)
    http://www.yoursecretwishes.com

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Hello Susan!

      Thank you very much for sharing this special experience with us!

      I read it with tears in my eyes, Jason was a wise boy and I can imagine how much you learned from him. You are absolutely right when you say perseverance is a vital skill for our kids, and it is also for us. Unfortunately this personal skills are not so easy to teach as others, we ourselves have to be persistent to transmit this value to our children. You knew to do that with Jason, you area model to follow for all parents! THANK YOU.

      I will write you today!

  9. Tanja

    “Alma and the Doll in the Park” is a great app, appealing to children and to parents like-wise.
    Children grow up with technology so we need people like Maria who is a mother herself and who develops tools that we can let our children use. They learn twice – things necessary to their development and simultaneously new technology is brought closer and our kids learn by playing. Done in a healthy way and with right time frame – great tool!

  10. Irma Hudson

    I love the way you talk about perseverance with Alma. Perseverance also fosters resilience so that when things get tough and changes have to happen children will adapt to changes. Thank you for sharing your story, and I am confident with time your dreams/apps will come true. With all my appreciation in the world, Alma’s Power’s rock! xoxo,

    1. Maria Andrea Camacho

      Thank you Irma for comment! You are right about perseverance and what it can teach to our children, I know to teach them values is so important for you as for me, thank you for your faith in us, all we do is inspired on our children and yours! Love!!! xoxoxoxox

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