GoalsOnTrack Blog

A systematic approach to achieving goals and getting results.

How To Accomplish Difficult Goals - Be Persistent Like A Bear

By Yishan Wong

If you want to accomplish difficult goals, achieve things beyond what you’re supposed to do, the way to do so is to be inhumanly persistent.  Persistent like a bear.

There’s an interesting conundrum faced by the people who design trash disposal bins at national parks.  You see, bears try to break into the trash bins to eat leftover food, so the bins need to have locks on them.  However, the locks need to be simple enough so that a lazy human being can instantly figure out how to unlock it, because if the mechanism is too hard to figure out the human will just not bother and instead leave their trash in a pile next to the bin, where bears still end up getting it.  On the other hand, if the lock mechanism is too easy to open, the bears can figure it out and get into the bin.

The difficulty in designing this lock comes from the fact that a lazy human is unlikely to try very hard to figure out a lock mechanism, while a hungry bear is extremely persistent.  So the intersection of lock mechanism difficulty is very small - basically you need a lock that is easy enough for a lazy human to open but hard enough to keep out a determined hungry bear.  It turns out that sometimes this isn’t possible (the intersection space doesn’t exist), and either the bears get into the trash bin or the humans just give up and leave the trash next to the bin.  What this means is that, when it comes to achieving goals, an extremely determined and persistent bear is effectively more intelligent than a lazy human being.

The lesson we can take away from this is that determination and persistence increase your ability to accomplish difficult things (as well as your effective intelligence) by orders of magnitude.  So if you want to do achieve something hard, something - perhaps - inhumanly hard - you might just be able to do it by being endlessly persistent alone.

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