The One Skill To Have That Will Completely Change Your Life


Producer’s note: Someone on Quora asked: What is the only one skill that, if you have, will completely change your life? Here is one of the best answers that’s been pulled from the thread.

I could offer countless stories of people who have succeeded in life because they had that skill.

But I won’t.

For example, I could have told you about J.K. Rowling, a broke, divorced mother who bashed out the first Harry Potter story on an old manual typewriter, and had her manuscript rejected by 12 publishers before being accepted by one who nevertheless warned her there was no money in children’s books.

But I won’t.

I could have told you about Ethiopian Abebe Bikila, son of a shepherd, who won back-to-back Olympic marathons in the Sixties, became a quadriplegic after a car accident, and returned to international sports as an archer.

But I won’t.

I could have told you about Mr Bean actor Rowan Atkinson or comedian Wayne Brady, both of whom had serious stuttering problems as children and used the stage as a way to overcome them.

But I won’t.

I could have told you about Nick Vujicic, born without arms and legs, but whose motivational speeches attract stadium-sized crowds and give hope to those living with disabilities.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll tell you to take a good, close look at your own life and the challenges that came up along the way.

Of the time when you were five, and the simple act of tying your shoelaces made you frustrated. When you eventually figured it out, it wasn’t because you were talented. It was because you persisted (or your parents encouraged you to) until you got it right.

Or the time you were in school and had to learn a new language, and it seemed unthinkable you would ever be able to speak it with any degree of fluency. But you stuck with it, and you did.

Or the time you fell in love and thought the girl or guy of your dreams might be impossible to get. But you wooed them anyway, and you did.

Or the time when the love ran out and the relationship appeared to be drifting aimlessly, until you consciously decided to work on making things better. And they did.

Or the time you continued to send out job applications, despite the sinking feeling that came with every rejection letter or no letter at all. Until one company called you in.

Or the time you started work at a new place and had this horrid feeling you’d be shown up as a fake because you had no clue of what needed to be done. Until you figured it all out.

Or the time you tried to get started in a business of your own, and kept failing at it, until you found a way to steady the ship and power ahead.

Or the time you decided to take up something new, like woodworking or web coding, and you couldn’t but be disheartened at how hard it was. But you persevered, and now looking back, it surprises you at how far you’ve come.

Talent is a nice thing to have. It’ll take you far. But to get to where you really want to, that takes perseverance.

This answer originally appeared at Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and get insider knowledge.