Posted on

Don’t underestimate the power of persistence

Don’t underestimate the power of persistence Don’t underestimate the power of persistence

Jill Fortin wants to earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Two years ago, the Medford Area Senior High (MASH) art teacher set an unofficial record for the most number of clay pots produced in one hour.

Efforts to get that feat certified and enshrined in the record book fell through as the folks at Guinness rejected it for not meeting their criteria.

On Saturday Fortin tried again, and then again.

There are many reasons people try for things like a world record. For some it is seeking glory and attention. For others it is about scratching a proverbial itch.

For Fortin, it was about teaching a lesson in persistence.

People, particularly young people, have lost the concept of persistence. In an era of immediate gratification, people start a new endeavor and expect to be great from the start.

This delusion takes many forms. From thinking you will hit a home run at your first at-bat to believing the person you met at the bar Friday night is your soulmate that you will end up marrying, or that your first attempt at painting a picture will yield something worthy of putting in a museum.

It is not that these things are outside the realm of possibility, it is just that outside of a Hollywood movie, they are not very probable. When failure happens, as it inevitably does, many people simply give up.

That is where persistence pays off. The persistent person knows that while success may appear to come easily to some, that success is actually the result of long hours of practice. It is countless repetitions of getting knocked down and getting back up again.

As a teacher and parent, Jill Fortin knows the most effective way to teach a behavior is to model that behavior.

It is with that in mind that Fortin made the decision to go for the record. She wanted to show that with persistence it is possible to achieve your goals.

Fortin made her record-breaking attempt on Saturday in front of a large crowd of spectators. With her was a team of helpers, camera operators and the officials to measure and record the pots as they came off the pottery wheel.

It was clear from the start of the event that Fortin was off the pace needed, with far too many pots being rejected for not meeting the height and width requirements. The hour flew by with Fortin far from her goal.

Rather than give up and go home, Fortin talked with her team and decided to try again later that day. Her pacing was far better in the second attempt with far fewer pots being rejected by the officials.

If this was a Hollywood movie, or even a low-budget after school special, the finale would be having Fortin overcoming the slow start to edge past the record in the final seconds. This isn’t a movie though, it is real life and Fortin’s attempt to set a new record fell short of that goal. But that is OK.

Truth be told, when your goal is to teach a lesson in perseverance, it is the better ending, one more grounded in reality and leaving us all waiting for the sequel.