Staying Power /stā-iNG ˈpou-ər/– Compound Noun: Steadfastness of purpose despite obstacles, delays, setbacks or discouragement.

Staying Power is one of seven key pillars in our Methodology for Compassionate WorkIn a nutshell, the pillars are: vision, special skills, non-duplication, partnership, credit sharing, feedback and staying power.

Staying Power means staying the course over the long haul, knowing that some things – important things – can take time (some monumental efforts even take more than a single person’s lifetime). Sometimes, when our vision takes time to come to fruition, we need staying power, so we don’t grow disheartened and give up. There are so many things that help give us the stamina and courage to continue. Teachers, you might want to brainstorm them, during classroom time.  You can also choose to teach from examples on our spreadsheet of social entrepreneurs [click for PDF], many of whom have been dedicated to their task for longer than your students have been living. We’re highlighting three aspects of staying power that help, to get the discussion started. These are: a youthful attitude, the company you keep, and remembering to dwell in possibility, never underestimating your ripple.

Youthful Attitude – Jimmy Carter is in his nineties, and he still square dances with friends and supporters. He has a youthful attitude, and he’s said many times that as long as he has breath, he’ll never give up trying to help make the world a better place. But it’s possible to the opposite attitude – sick and tired of life – even when you’re still young. Such an attitude is harmful to your staying power. We once heard a motivational speaker on the radio tell about how he had a high school friend who would always answer the question “What’s new?” with “Nothing, just getting fat, bald and old,” and who sure looked fat, old and bald a few years later, at a reunion. In contrast, consider a “young” woman who was in her nineties, when Lauren Speeth shared a music stand with her, in the first violin section of the Peninsula Symphony. She had staying power, having kept playing all these years. This woman was a joy, never complaining of her health, always present for the younger players with a kind word or a compliment. When Lauren told Caroline that her violin teacher, Aaron Rosand, was about to celebrate his eightieth birthday, Caroline laughed and said, “Oh, he’s just a baby!” Rosand, who recently turned 88 years young, spent his entire birthday auditioning students at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having a youthful attitude lends a person staying power.

The Company We Keep – We all have moments of doubt along our path. We need people who will speak words of encouragement, and uplift us in these tough moments.  The  social entrepreneurs we’ve highlighted in our spreadsheet [click for PDF] – are known for encouraging the people around them. For example, when Dr. Lauren Speeth, founder of Elfenworks, was once facing a challenge, she received words of encouragement from Mrs. Carter, who told her, simply, “chin up, stay the course.”  Mrs. Carter reminded Speeth that she’d been working on efforts for many decades without giving up, and Speeth should simply follow her example.  Of course, we’ve all heard that old adage, “beware of lowly friends” – steer clear of anyone who will drag you down or step on your dreams.  Why not add to it, “seek out lofty friends,” also.  When we seek out friends who uplift, inspire and encourage us, we increase our staying power.

Dwell in Possibility – Why do we say “never underestimate your ripple?” Because we’ve seen the power that is unleashed when a person dwells in possibility.  One person can, indeed, make a difference. Never forget this simple truth. Dr. Donald Hopkins, once was sitting at a table, encouraging a young high school student about her future plans. He was once involved in the worldwide effort to eradicate smallpox, a dread disease that used to kill many millions, and the world’s first disease to be eradicated. He then headed up the effort to eradicate Guinea Worm, at The Carter Center. The disease once plagued 3.5 million, and now is down to 125 cases. He said “don’t listen when someone tells you something is impossible. I used to get that all the time, but people don’t tell me that very often, anymore.” He dwells in possibility, and he has proven the power of the intelligent, applied compassion, coupled with option.  There are many “naysayers” you need to tune out, when making your way through the world. The media is full of messages that will bring you down.  Dwell in possibility and never underestimate your ripple!

About these Pages
Students, educators, nonprofit leaders… no matter where you are in your journey, The Elfenworks Foundation wants to help you to be successful with making a lasting, positive change.  Educators, we hope this subpage helps you as you equip your students with this effective “life tool.” It’s useful in many realms beyond social entrepreneurship. See the book, entitled Intelligence & Compassion in Action; The Seven Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs for additional factors that influence staying power, and for teachable questions. Also, for more on  “The Seven Pillars of Social Entrepreneurship”  (this page is a subpage) then please visit the main subject page.