Intellectual Virtues and Perseverance

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“When looking at the most successful people and organizations, we often imagine geniuses with a smooth journey straight to the promised land. But when you really examine nearly every success story, they are filled with crushing defeats, near-death experiences, and countless setbacks.” – Josh Linkner

If there’s one message that I’ve seen popping up in almost everything I’ve been reading lately, it seems to be that failure is very frequent. Those who truly succeed, usually do so because they’ve persevered and kept trying despite the failures. The problem is that very often we only read about the successes.

I think this same issue creeps into our day-to-day lives as well. With tools like Facebook, we constantly get a glimpse at the most interesting things happening in the lives of 500 of our closest friends. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that all of our friends are constantly doing something super awesome and fun. But when you’re looking at that many people, one of them is bound to be doing something fun any given week.

It’s actually a good thing that we can focus on these good times and successes. The problem only arises because of the way this impacts us psychologically. Our own lives are the only ones we experience from moment-to-moment, with all of the good and the bad. And it’s too easy to forget that everyone else has these down moments, these moments of doubt, these moments of sadness, etc.  And we certainly don’t update our Facebook or write press releases every time we fail.

They key is that’ it’s important to remember everyone has these moments. Everyone fails. We can’t get too frustrated when it happens to us. Persistence and determination matter. When things aren’t going your way, don’t give up, and don’t give in to the feeling that you’re the only one going through something. Because we all are. 

Although he discussed moral virtues in more depth, Aristotle also emphasizes the importance of intellectual virtues. Without going too much in depth at this point, our intellectual virtues essentially enable us to see, and truly grasp, the world around us. This is extremely important in making moral judgments, because we have to actually understand the situation we are in if we are going to make correct judgments.

Start exercising your intellectual virtue a little more today. Realize that others are struggling and failing all of the time. And persevere as you work on the goals that are important to you.

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