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Gift of Character: Perseverance – The Definition

Word of monthEach month we will discuss a life skill with all of our students. This month the word is Perseverance.  This word will be defined in the following ways for our students.

Young students: Perseverance means: When the work gets tough, I don’t give up!

Older students: Perseverance means:  Steady, goal-oriented persistence, despite challenges or obstacles.

Each age group has a worksheet that parents can use to continue the discussion at home with their children, and one for adults to allow them to think more deeply about the skill and how it applies to them. Would you like to receive the worksheet? Stop by our studio at 133 Gibralter Avenue in Annapolis, MD and tell us the age of your child. We will give you a worksheet and invite you to watch Mr. Joe discuss the word with the students in class.  You can also follow our discussions here on this website.

If you would like to become a member of Balanced Life Skills, come TRY CLASSES FOR FREE.   We are not your typical after school activity, in fact we are an education center, working with our students on physical skills along with empowering families with compassion, awareness and respect – creating a culture of peace – through the martial arts.  We believe in every child and will build their confidence.  Balanced Life Skills serves the community and encourages each student to do the same.


Persistence vs. Perseverance

perseverance vs persistenceWhen I first looked at the word for this month, Persistence, I wondered to myself – ‘what is the difference between persistence and perseverance?’   Both seem to be about reaching a goal and the goal not coming easy.  Both require discipline, focus and determination.  I thought about it for hours, trying to determine how to deal with this subject with our students.

The first requirement for successfully reaching a goal is to have a goal, a purpose / mission that we are committed to and have a strong desire to reach.

Once we have a goal or chief aim in our mind we must have perseverance, because there will be things that come up that will block the easy path to that goal.  We may get sick, not have the financial resources.  We may get hurt or other situations may arise outside our realm of control that could easily make us believe that we cannot continue.  It may seem that it is just not ‘meant to be’  due to these circumstances or events and therefore easy to give up.  Perseverance is not allowing these outside forces dissuade us from pursuing our mission or specific goal.

Persistence is also needed but is far more internal.  We may have a goal in mind that we believe in and want to accomplish, that while may be possible, may also be very difficult or require more time, energy or creativity than we expected.  Persistence is the quality that keeps us going, even when others have given up.  It is reexamining our motives and desires and pressing forward – to find the answer or accomplish the goal.  Our desire is so strong that when one way of approaching the challenge does not work we do not give up – rather we look at it from a different point of view.  Our desire to reach the goal continues to drive us even if the process become monotonous or even boring.  Our internal drive does not stop.

There are times when perseverance and persistence no longer make sense and we need to adjust our goal in some manner.  Most of the time though both of these character traits will help us accomplish our mission or purpose when put into practice in a balanced manner.


Ready, Set, Get Tough!

In 13 (short) weeks, I will be competing — and I use that term loosely — with a team in the Mid-Atlantic Tough Mudder Event. To give an overview of the obstacles I am committed to overcoming, I will submerge and swim through an ice tank, crawl through narrow, sloping pipes leading into frigid mud, slither under low-hanging live wires waiting to electrocute, leap over 4-foot high hurdles of kerosene flames, and so, so much more across the distance of 12 miles!


Why go through with this? Besides wanting to challenge myself and test my physical limits, the Tough Mudder raises awareness and funds for theWounded Warrior Project. This project is focused on reintegrating injured soldiers into society, and active lifestyles, with their programs.

If you are interested and able, please support me in the Tough Mudder event, on September 8th, by donating online here. The proceeds raised will assist many individuals and families struggling to deal with the injuries received in the line of duty. You contribution is greatly appreciated!



Life Skills: The Practice of Perseverance Builds Confidence In Ourselves

Teaching character and life skills to students

Martial arts schools so many times have students brought to them to build their confidence.  What is it about the training that takes place there that accomplishes that goal, and what can you do as a parent at home that would emulate that training.

Confidence is built on feeling good about yourself and what you have achieved.  In the martial arts you have goals set before you, some of them physical and some of them mental.  You are given the time frame to accomplish them in, and if you stay on target and practice you will most likely reach those goals.  When goals are reached, the confidence is built, so that when the next even harder task is asked of us, we know that if we commit ourselves to the task or skill, we will be able to accomplish it and yes – build even more confidence.

Imagine though, we quit or gave up saying it was too hard, or worse asked the instructor to excuse us from having to do something because…  what would our confidence be like when the next task was asked of us.  We may be willing to give up again, and possibly with even less effort.

Here is the bottom line:  When we achieve something after working hard, we feel good about ourselves and know we can do anything if we commit.  When we feel confident, we’ll set more goals, and have an easier time committing and persevering.  What have you done recently that shows perseverance?  Did you get past your fears, or not let others influence you to stop reaching for your goals?  Did you tell yourself, “When the going gets tough, I don’t quit!”


Life Skills: When Perseverance Does Not Appear To Be In Your Child’s DNA

Teaching character and life skills to students

As I started this piece I was thinking of all those times my father and mother both told me I was not living up to my potential.  I thought about how many times even teachers told me that I was wasting good talent.  But I do not remember any of them coming up with a solution – other than just saying to me – You Have To Apply Yourself!  Do you know how empty those words are to a middle school or high school student?  What do you mean “apply yourself”?  Then I would go off about how it was bad teachers or any other excuse that made perfect sense to me.

Now that I am in the other position and past having my own kids that are frustrating me with their lack of effort – I have looked at this subject with much more objectivity and deeper than ever before.  Yes there are things that you can do.  No there is not a single conversation you can have and then everything is fixed. But here are a few steps that should help over the long haul, and yes it can be a long haul.

  1. Look for ways your child is already using perseverance.  It may be saving money for a certain ‘thing’ they want.   Discuss with them the steps they had to take to accomplish that goal and then offer the idea that the same techniques can be used to accomplish other goals.
  2. Do not start with getting straight A’s.  Start small and maybe something that is fun for them.  It may be a finishing a book, building a project or learning a new skill.
  3. Allow the child to choose the goal.  “I want to learn how to ….”  Now you have something that they are excited about and you can help them with planning how to reach the goal.
  4. Be aware and alert to things your child says that will give you the opportunity to teach.  They may say, “I would like to read the most books this summer, or win the science fair, or get a ipod”  Now you have a place to start with setting out steps, an action plan, and a timetable to reach that goal.
  5. Include your children in your own goal setting process.  It may be for accomplishing something around the house, or learning a new skill yourself.  Include them in on how you break down the tasks and make it happen over a period of time.
  6. Be real with them.  If there goal is to learn to play a musical instrument the amount of commitment is different than if there goal is to win the science fair.  Helping them to grasp reality vs. making them believe their goal is impossible is the balance you must make.  Helping them to think it through first will help to keep them from being discouraged when things do not happen as fast as they thought they might.
  7. Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!  When you see them put forth the effort, sticking to their plan, and making progress – be sure to commend them and celebrate the effort!  This will go a long way in keeping them on track and encouraging them to complete other goals in the same manner.
Finally, making goal setting a part of their life is key to working on these steps.  Before the school year starts, begin talking about the goals they have for the year and how they plan on reaching them.  They may be academic goals or social goals, or they may be goals for showing leadership in areas of interest to them.  If your child has been the target of bullies in the past, they may have a goal of standing up to them and being proactive for changing the culture of their school.  You can help them with role-playing and getting them to think of ways they can accomplish their goals. 

I am here to help your child also to take leadership roles, to encourage them and provide help to them.  What if your child was a part of or started a project to help the hungry, stop bullying, provide school supplies or something else that they were interested in.  Balanced Life Skills wants to help them to accomplish their goals too.

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