Over the course of our lives, we can learn a wide range of skills. If I had to choose the single most valuable skill a person can have for their entire life, I would choose this:
Here are the top 5 reasons perseverance is the single most valuable skill a person can have:
1. It leads to mastery. A sustained effort over time will typically lead to mastery.
I spent 2 years writing 6 books, 21 articles, 18 Quora posts and 30 editorial pitches before I finally got published in an online major publication (I've now been published on Forbes, Fortune, Inc, Business Insider and The Huffington Post). Over time my writing drastically improved and my output also increased. When I first started writing, an article would take me a few days to write. Now I can an article in 2 hours and the quality is significantly better.
This all happened because I persevered.
2. It can lead to opportunities, even when it seems like there are none. I once interviewed at a Fortune 100 company with 5 hiring managers. The first 4 managers ranked me second to last. They told me I didn't have the skills that they were looking for. If I had given up after those 4 interviews, I would have never had the chance to go on that 5th interview. Want to know what happened on that 5th interview? I was asked to deliver a presentation on the spot (without any advance notice) and I crushed it because I had prepared like crazy. I got the job offer.
3. It makes you more resilient. I once started an iPhone app company. My first app had a terrible looking UI but it solved a major problem for college students (it was a flash card app for Interview Questions). This app ended up hitting the top 50 in business and drove me to build a total of 14 apps over the next few years. 10 of them failed completely. I didn't give up because I had been through so much rejection earlier in my life already. I had built a thick skin at this point. And along the way, something funny happened. The designs got better. The coding got cleaner. The business ideas became easier to identify.
If I had quit halfway through, I wouldn't have built the other 3 apps...which went on to hit the top 100 ranking in their respective categories.
4. It can teach you how to manage a crisis. At some point in our lives, we'll run into a crisis. Once, I received a letter in the mail at midnight on a Saturday. It was a letter from a lawyer saying that we potentially owed their client for damages. It was gut wrenching to read that letter. I could feel an overwhelming sense of worry rush over me. So what did I do? I went to sleep. And the next day, I called a few lawyers and figured out a solution. Within 2 weeks, everything turned out fine. That's when I learned that worrying doesn't solve anything. Persevering does.
5. It makes you optimistic about life.
I told someone about my idea to create a blog to share motivational posts (it's called http://www.ceolifestyle.io) and they brushed it off. When I told them I wanted to create a community of 100,000 subscribers and 1 million monthly visitors, they gave me this look that said, "Sure." When I was younger, I probably would have been irritated, but as I've gotten older, I use it as fuel for motivation. The reason? I had already started two businesses before and I knew that with hard work and passion, I could get a third business up and running. Persevering in the past taught me to be optimistic about the future.
So if I had to choose just one skill, it would be perseverance.
Never give up.