Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tenacity and Persistence: How Two-Year-Olds Teach Us

"Tenacity and Persistence: How Two-Year-Olds Teach Us”
Darrel L. Hammon

We have been in Provo for the past week, taking care of our little granddaughter while her mother was at Young Women’s camp. Her father had to work; so, we were able to be with her during the day. I learned a valuable lesson from her this week. The lesson was tenacity and persistence.

You have to realize she isn’t quite two yet, not until this coming Saturday. But the little woman is tenacious and persistent! Having tenacity or being tenacious means literally having the persistence to carry through with something. Sometimes there is a conclusion; sometimes there is not a conclusion. But the key is to persist with tenacity.

When we travel, we often bring travel bottles of shampoo and things so that we do not have to carry large quantities of the items. One of those items is a special type of shampoo that I use just a couple times a week. For travel, I put a small amount in a bottle. The bottle I happen to put it this time was one of those bottles with a safety screw cap that you have to press down and then turn. It is sometimes difficult for even me to open.

Well, my granddaughter found the bottle and tried opening it. She tried and tried and tried, every which way possible. But she was unable to open it—thank goodness. But she was tenacious and persistent about it. When I attempted to intervene, her simple words were “No, Emi do it!” And she was adamant. She was not going to have grandpa do something she could do on her own—or so she thought. Not once did she ask that I open the bottle for her. She just kept twisting and twisting, turning and turning, the bottle cap, trying with her little might to open the bottle.  She didn’t try for just a few seconds, but her twisting and turning continued for some minutes. Finally, though, she did decide that she couldn’t do it by herself. She placed it back where she got and left. I know if I gave it to her again today, tomorrow, or even the next day, she would try to open the bottle. That’s tenacity! That’s persistence!

So, where do we learn persistence and tenacity? In the April 2000 General Conference, President James E. Faust said: “President Grant had a favorite quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson which he lived by: ‘That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do; not that the nature of the thing itself is changed, but that our power to do is increased.’”

I memorized that quote many years ago and quote it often, more so for myself than for anyone else. I suspect as little Emi becomes more proficient with her fingers, she will be able to open the bottle some day. Her persistence, her tenacity, will carry her through her entire life, and she will accomplish much.

Our power to do something increases if we keep with it. Often, in our society, people give up way too early before they are able to accomplish a task. Working through something will inevitably help us gain greater insight into that which we are doing. But we to understand a simple concept: being humble enough to accept our weakness and then work diligently on it to make it our strength.

In the Book of Mormon, Moroni wrote: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

We all possess weaknesses. According to Moroni, President Grant, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, we need to persist in overcoming our weaknesses through working hard, being tenacious, and being persistent. When we do, our weaknesses will become our strengths.

So, we must continue forward like little Emi, twisting and turning and trying to figure out how that cap comes off because it does come off, but it takes a bit of work to do it. Perhaps, Christ said it best: “We must become as little children….”

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