Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

The Virtue of Perseverance

Recovery is the undertaking of a lifetime, one that is filled, as life always is, with a never-ending series of challenges, big and small. Hence the need for perseverance, the virtue which enables us to stick steadfastly to our objective over the long haul whatever the difficulties or obstacles in our path.

Perseverance is essential to the self-examination of Steps 4 and 10 in particular. In Step 4 we are doing an inventory of our entire life, and we have to keep moving ahead and surmount a number of internal obstacles (dishonesty, fear, guilt, shame, pride) if we are to be searching and thorough and do more than merely touch the surface and leave the job half done.

In Step 10 we continue, day in and day out, to examine ourselves, we continue to admit our wrongs, we continue to surrender them, we continue to ask for their removal, we continue to make amends.

We continue to forgive, no matter how many times we have been wronged. We continue to hope, even when all seems bleak. We continue to pray, even when no one appears to be listening. And we continue to say thank you, at all times and in all things, "doing what we know to be good for us."

[Image: Fr. Ralph Pfau, aka John Doe, believed to be first Roman Catholic priest to get sober in AA (Indianapolis, 11/10/41); author of “The Golden Books.”]

“Both you and [your sponsee] must walk day by day in the path of spiritual progress. If you persist, remarkable things will happen. . . . Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances.” – Big Book

 “Step Four is our vigorous and painstaking effort to discover what these liabilities in us have been, and are . . . [so that] we can move toward their correction. Without a willing and persistent effort to do this, there can be little sobriety or contentment for us.” – 12&11

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

“Love always perseveres.” – 1 Cor 13:7

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking." 
– Buddhist saying

"As long as you live, keep learning how to live." – Seneca

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” 
– Ovid


“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” 
– Confucius

“It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.” 
– Albert Einstein


“The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” 
– Unknown

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.” 
– Samuel Johnson


“To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie an anchor. Sail, not drift.” 
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.” – Unknown




“Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” – Earl Nightingale

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” 
– Walter Elliott


“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” 
– Nelson Mandela

"In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is." 
– Unknown


“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther


“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.” – Thomas Edison

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.’” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“If you want a quality, act as if you already have it. If you want to be courageous, act as if you were—and as you act and persevere in acting, so you tend to become.” – Norman Vincent Peale


“Does the road wind up-hill all the way? Yes, to the very end.” – Christina Rossetti

“Let perseverance be your engine and hope your fuel.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." – Winston Churchill


“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” – Dale Carnegie


“I may not be there yet, but I'm closer than I was yesterday.” – Unknown


“Don't let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was." – Richard L. Evans

“At first we hope too much; later on, not enough." – Joseph Roux

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” – James A. Michener


“Discouragement is a warning signal that I may have wandered across the God line. The secret of fulfilling my potential is in acknowledging my limitations and believing that time is a gift, not a threat.” – A.A.’s Daily Reflections

"Spiritual development is achieved by daily persistence in living the way [I] believe God wants [me] to live . . . I pray that I may persist day by day in gaining spiritual experience. I pray that I may make this a lifetime work." 
– Twenty-four Hours a Day


“If I am having trouble making a fearless and thorough moral inventory, I just may not be willing to take the necessary action. Or I may have a problem being honest with myself. Or I may lack in perseverance, acquiescing in sloth or indifference instead.” – PTP

“Working Step 3 is a daily endeavor, a matter of following a sustained course of action guided by the principles it sets down. It requires persistent effort and exertion and, like all the Steps, calls upon the virtue of perseverance.” 

* Note: The BB and 12&12 sometimes use persistence synonymously with perseverance and sometimes not. This is because, unlike perseverance, persistence can be exercised for wrong reasons and toward wrong ends (as some of the passages show). The meanings of persistence and perseverance are not coextensive.

For more PTP passages on perseverance, see pp. 13 and 26. For more BB and 12&12 passages, click on and search various forms of perseverance and persistence.* See also on this website: “In All Our Affairs: Practicing Patience,” and "The Virtue of Courage."  

For other posts on the virtues and the disciplines, please click on Practice These.