New Take On PhD?

A successful business owner, despite little formal education, claimed to have a PhD. When asked for clarification, she said that she had (P)erseverance, (H)ard work and (D)etermination. What a glorious way to describe the key elements of success.

Let’s explore each of these in greater detail.


In the early days of my business as a part-time CFO, I had the good fortune to hear a speaker who said “You can have the wrong strategy, target the wrong market, offer the wrong products and make countless other mistakes and still be successful, if you persevere.”

It’s a message that has served me well for over three decades. When things don’t go according to plan, and they rarely do, I can be patient knowing that I’m simply missing a piece to the puzzle and that if I continue to put forth the effort, learn from my mistakes and stay alert during my search for the missing piece, I will be successful.

Hard work

Any worthwhile goal is going to require hard work over an extended period of time. The sharks on the Shark Tank (opens in a new link) often say “A big goal takes a decade or more to achieve.” 

Having been the CFO of a variety of companies in various industries, I thought I had a good handle on the amount of effort it would take to be successful as a part-time CFO. Boy, was I delusional. I was off by roughly 70% in my perception of what it would take to be successful. But I worked hard and it paid off.

There is one other element that’s directly related to hard work that we need to discuss and that is desire. Our willingness to put in the work is directly related to how passionate we are about what we desire. As you consider something that intrigues you, take a moment to identify the first three to five steps you’ll need to take toward your goal. Then evaluate your willingness to do the work associated with each step. A five-point scale, with five being high and one being low, can help you quantify your willingness to do the work.


There will be times when, despite knowing that you’re doing all the right things, you’re not getting the results you desire. It’s at times like these that you’ll be tempted to throw your hands up in disgust and accept defeat. This is precisely the time to renew your resolve and state firmly your determination to be successful.

It helps if you have people in your corner. Late in my second year in business I had a revenue month as bad as my very first month in business. In frustration I said to my wife “I must be nuts. I’m out there telling people that I can help them grow their business and here I am with a month as bad as my first month.”

She said “Dale, look at the trend. This is one month, look at the trend.” What struck me about her statement is that I knew her need for financial security was greater than mine, yet here she was encouraging me to stay the course, to be determined to succeed. A couple of months later my business seemed to take on a life of its own. I no longer had to pursue business as aggressively as I had been, business was coming to me in the form of referrals.

So what does this mean for you?

For you

There are several things I’d like you to take away from this blog post:

  • The key elements of success, in any endeavor, are perseverance, hard work & determination: a PhD.
  • Perseverance is essential when things don’t go according to plan and as we recover from our mistakes.
  • Hard work is often harder than we imagine and is required for longer periods of time than we anticipate.
  • The way to gauge your willingness to do the work is to evaluate your desire for the goal you envision. The greater your desire, the more likely you are to do the work.
  • Determination, combined with a healthy support system, assure your success.
  • With PhD (perseverance, hard work and determination), you can achieve anything you desire.

For our kids

Help your kids develop these traits by living them. Kids tend to pay more attention to what we do than what we say.

When the kids in your life experience the inevitable doubts, fears and anxiety associated with the pursuit of a goal, help them discover the power of PhD. They’ll thank you for it.

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your experiences in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

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