The Magic Four: Determination

I have been writing about the magic four qualities that will make all the difference when applied in your life.  The previous blog wrote about Persistence, and today I would like to discuss Determination. In the next blog, I will write about Poise and Self-Confidence.  When I determined to attend The University of Iowa as a teenager, I had no money, no means to get there and audition, and a family that did not support my dream in any way.  Gradually, by breaking down the steps as I understood them, I placed one block in place at a time and succeeded in attending and graduating from The University of Iowa.  I grew because I chose a definite goal, but all of my energy into the target, my willpower to make it work, my efforts, and everything I could behind the goal.

I started with the smallest of tasks that still led towards my goal: putting together an audition tape.  Gradually I learned compositions that were representative of my abilities and recorded them.  I sent the audition tape off to the college, and eventually, I received an acceptance letter.  Step one, right?  Well, as I saw it, yes, and that is the key.  Don’t worry about having all the steps, having them all in order, and then setting about your achievement.  If you do that, you will likely fail because something along the way will derail you.  Some might have advised me to be sure that the money was all in place before I went about auditioning.  When you start simple and then build from there, you begin the process of success through Determination.  There will be distractions and times when you’re just off-track.  That is okay; pull yourself back and start again.

I like to remind myself that it took Thomas A. Edison 10,000 tries before he succeeded in lighting the light bulb for the first time.  Think of that, 10K tries!  A reporter asked Mr. Edison if he was discouraged after trying many times to figure out the correct combinations to light the light bulb.  He replied that he was not frustrated but had found 9,999 ways that it didn’t work.  But, on try number 10,000, it did work.  What was that?  Determination.  A single-minded purpose–that of lighting the light bulb.  He chooses to see his “failures” as ways that didn’t work instead of obstacles.  When we see obstacles, we are quick to abandon our image, our success, our dream.  But when we see the process as ways that will not work, we keep going until we achieve success.

Take time today to examine Determination and how it has played out successfully in your life.  Find a time when you had that burning desire to achieve and keep at it until success.  Write down what you did, how you held your image of success, and how you handled defeats, nay-sayers, and difficulties?  Once you understand Determination to this level, you are on your way to applying the Magic Four. Following writing, we will discuss Poise and self-confidence.

For an understanding of Self-Determination Theory, please read Self-Determination Theory: How It Explains Motivation (

For another look at Determination, please see my blog post at Determination – Dr. Rich Patterson (


Yours for a Better Life,