Of all the qualities that contribute to an accomplished life, none is more important than persistence. Intelligence, knowledge, connections, luck — they are all important ingredients in the stew of success, but persistence is the stock. Persistence is a big virtue comprising many large and small ones, including endurance, tenacity, perseverance, and follow-through. Today, I’d like to talk about follow-through.
Follow-through means completing the action you promised. It means making the phone call, sending the package, or replying to the e-mail. It is usually a relatively small action that comes after a larger one. You dream and scheme to get an interview with a prospective employer. Finally, it is done. You have the meeting and he tells you he is impressed with you and would like to check your credentials. You tell him you’ll send them to him. You don’t.
That’s the interesting thing about this little virtue. It doesn’t require a lot from you, and it usually follows a great effort. But it’s so often not done. Recently, at an American Writers & Artists Institute seminar, JT, the publisher of a direct-mail newsletter business, invited the participants to contact her should they want a shot at writing a professional package. Eight students gave her their names. Each of the eight had completed a $500 basic program in copywriting and had begun a much more expensive graduate training program that required them to do a lot of work and travel long distances to attend seminars.
All this was done in the hopes of getting hired to write copy. Here was their chance. All they had to do was follow up and they’d be on their way. Their long-held dreams would become reality. Here’s what happened, according to JT: “They had all expressed a particular interest in health and were VERY eager to get started. Since they were new to writing, I invited them to send me samples of their course work or anything they had written.
When they left, I worried that I had just created a new full-time job for myself, responding to these 8 or so people. I expected a rush of e-mails and packages with everything they had ever written, including grocery lists and letters to their mothers. “Only one person has ever contacted me.” Interesting. Only one in eight.
The rest had come so far and then — on the verge of success — faded. How can you explain such behavior? Laziness? Fear? However you think of it, what didn’t happen was something very simple: follow-up. Make yourself this promise: that for the rest of this year you will promptly follow up on everything you promise — and especially everything that will help your wealth-building and success-generating goals.
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]