I had this wrong for a long time. Until Derek Sivers set me straight.

Persistence is not about continuously hammering at a rock hoping to break it.

That’s just repetition.

Persistence, for us freelancers, is more about continually experimenting, exploring, perfecting.

It’s about trying all sorts of different ways to get that rock to break.

There was a squirrel who kept raiding our bird feeder. We tried thwarting that rascal with all sorts of ingenious tricks, by greasing the pole, moving the feeder, putting a giant bowl over the feeder. Nothing worked for long.

Whenever we added a new impediment, he would sit a few yards away staring at it. Then he’d try going around, over, under, hanging by his toes. After a few tries, he would retreat and cogitate from a different angle.

Within an hour, every time, the bugger would be sitting in the feeder, feasting on free sunflower seeds.

Me, I was always more like my turtle Carlo, who would spend hours pawing away at the sides of the aquarium, getting nowhere.

I would get stuck doing a thing because it once worked. Or because I thought it should work. Or because I loved the idea. Or because somebody said it would work. Or I was afraid to try something risky. I figured if I just kept banging away, it would work.

Wasted a whole lot of time that way.

It’s nine times faster, and 89% more fun, to keep trying different things.

We’re freelance. We can try anything we want, without permission. And if it doesn’t work, we don’t get yelled at.

We can just try something else.

And when it works, we get the sunflower seeds.

(And probably a few bucks, too.)