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Perseverance is designed to offer guidance, challenge, clarity and consolation to all the people doing their work day-by-day. The topics are not the usual inspiring, feel good, rah-rah messages.  Instead, Wheatley focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to give up or lose our way.  Perseverance is a discipline—it’s a day-by-day decision not to give up.  Therefore, we have to notice the moments when we feel lost or overwhelmed or betrayed or exhausted and note how we respond to them.  And we have to notice the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize we’ve made a small difference. 


Each topic is a brief essay, meant to be read as needed. (The book is not intended to be read through all at once.)  You can thumb through the book and find what you need or what attracts you in the moment.  Every essay names a behavior or dynamic, puts it into a broader human or timeless perspective, and offers ways for the reader to either live with or transcend that dynamic.  The reader is also challenged by the direct voice of the book. Wheatley wants people to be able to see themselves, their situation, and to assume responsibility for changing the situation or their reaction to it if it’s one that troubles them. (There deliberately are no examples of other people—the reader is the example; their personal experience is the only case material.)


The content (essays and quotes) is drawn from many spiritual traditions and diverse cultures.  The book is deeply grounded spiritually and also quite inclusive—accessing human experience and wisdom from many sources. Both this grounding and inclusiveness support the essential message—human being throughout time and history have persevered.  We’re just the most recent ones to face these challenges.

Margaret J. Wheatley is president of the Berkana Institute, a nonprofit education and scientific research foundation supporting the discovery of new organizational forms, and an internationally acclaimed speaker and writer. She is also the author of several books including Leadership and the New Science, a groundbreaking international bestseller (over 350,000 copies sold, translated into 18 languages).