My Greatest Strength

Posted on: September 7th, 2018 by

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

— Former US President Calvin Coolidge


It’s no wonder that this Calvin Coolidge quote has always resonated with me, for my greatest strength is determined persistence.

I wasn’t the most intelligent person in school. Not by a longshot. But I can tell you with equal confidence that I was the most persistent. When I have a goal in sight, it seems I’m hard-pressed to find someone who works harder than me at attaining it. Once I’m hungry for a certain outcome, I work my best to make sure it happens. Of course, things don’t always go my way. But I try my hardest to ensure they do.

In school, I studied my best, and worked so hard that I couldn’t see or think straight. And, as a result, I often achieved excellent grades. However, like many people, I also had my share of less-than-stellar outcomes. Nevertheless, I had no regrets because I knew I couldn’t have studied more diligently.

Persistence and determination are my foundation, and they’ve served me well. Because of these qualities, I’ve succeeded beyond others’ expectations. An advisor at Michigan State University told me to drop out of school because of my low grade point average. She was convinced I would drop out of college for good, due to a dismal GPA my entire freshman year. Thanks to my tenacity and the encouragement of an outstanding professor, I eventually thrived and graduated with a GPA I was proud of. It was not intelligence that launched me onto the stage at graduation; it was perseverance. And when my college English placement scores were low, another Michigan State advisor told me I wouldn’t succeed in college due to low literacy. However, I did the unthinkable: I graduated with a degree in English.

I believe persistence and determination are steel beams that help strengthen us in times of adversity. And I try to impart this value to my college students. I teach freshmen, who are not English majors, but they find themselves in my required composition courses. Some are scared of writing, while others lack overall confidence in themselves. Besides teaching them the required material, I try to help them understand that steely persistence is a major key to success and helps make discipline a habit. And, most importantly, I convey that I care about them as students and individuals.

What is your greatest strength? I would love to know.

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4 Responses to My Greatest Strength

  1. Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) had this to say about that:

    This is wonderful Beth and I love that quote too. Keep on keeping on my dear – your persistence inspires us all.

  2. Nancy Stordahl had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    This is a hard one. I’m not sure what my greatest strength is. I’m hard pressed to come up with one, and that’s not modesty speaking. Do you think it’s really possible to even know what your own greatest strength is? Persistence is a good one, though, that’s for sure. Thanks for giving me something to mull over, Beth.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Nancy, you make a good point. On any given day, I suppose, my perception of my greatest strength can change.

      Throughout the years, though, persistence has been my ally, so it’s been a consistent strength of mine.

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