In this third article of the series centered on how to improve self and help others do the same, the thrust is on the potency of determination. One of the key requirements for making meaningful progress and accelerating it is determination. What then is determination and how does it contribute to improvement of self and others? How may one recognize, cultivate and maintain the inner quality of perseverance and tenacity? Let examine in brief below. The second article on the necessity of having meaning and purpose in life made the following major points:

Meaning and purpose becomes a key impetus for self-improvement and for achieving a lot of good things in life. Many people do badly or poorly because they have no reason or purpose to live for and to achieve anything for. They go through life purposelessly and aimlessly. Meaning and purpose differs from person to person, culture to culture and generation to generation. But Christianity and the world religions believe that there is an overall purpose and meaning for all humans regardless of age, culture, and status. What is it then?

The catechisms (basic doctrinal teachings of a denomination) of some mainline denominations of the Christian faith put it succinctly and beautifully like this: “The purpose of man is to know, love, glorify and enjoy God forever”. Man was created in God’s image for love and fellowship. King Solomon, the wisest and richest King whoever lived, penned down these words: “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of everyone” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 12:13).

The fear of God and keeping his commandments are fulfilled in having and maintaining good relationships with God, fellow human beings and the environment. God’s will is justice, fairness, peace and wellbeing for all. We worship and glorify God by doing what is right and helpful to all. Every person then finds his/her own purpose in life (divine purpose or calling) in whatever area of life that excites, generates passion and drive in him/her and is in the areas of human endeavors that up lift all humanity. This covers every honorable profession and field of human endeavor. It can take the forms of teaching, serving, entrepreneurship, politics, law, sports, business, pastoring, administration, hospitality, envisioning and the like. Every person, then, ought to find out his/her unique purpose in life and seeks ways to improve and use self for God’s glory, his/her own good and the good of others.

Meaning and purpose then produces passion and drive which in turn produces determination which withstand and overcome opposition and numerous obstacles which often come in the way of progress and moving to the next level. Determination may be defined as a quality of mind that settles for something and will not let it go lightly; a strong will power that defines character; the art of being resolute in pursuing a definite goal. Other words that can be synonymous with determination are importunity, perseverance, tenacity, persistence and resoluteness.

Many times in life what differentiates between a successful person and the one who falls by the wayside or falls short of full potential is determination. The same temptations, challenges, problems and unbearable pain that cause many to give up can be overcome and turned into assets by the determined person. A lot of drive and passion keep the determined individual going while the intelligent, better educated and well-resourced falter and be left stagnant and behind forever.

Helen Keller is a perennial example of sheer determination. She lived in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s. Made blind and deaf by a debilitating disease at the age of nine, she rose above the challenges in those days of being blind and deaf to acquiring a university degree and becoming an author, a lecturer, and an activist for the disabled. She could have mourned and blamed other people for her condition. No, rather she worked extra hard and excelled above many normal persons!

Another shining example of the power of determination is that of Nelson Mandela who stayed in jail for twenty-seven years in a cause he knew to be right and for the sake of resisting evil and thereby inspiring many to carry on the struggles from where he left off. Determination and perseverance can break the power of the heartlessness of tyrants, corrupt and powerful holders of wealth, privileges and authority and give victory to the poor and powerless who carry in the face of what may appear insurmountable. Anyone who wants to move ahead in life in a positive direction and inspire others to do the same must have and keep the potent weapon of determination.


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