How do we compare Watanabe with English-speaking, noted people like Thomas Alva Edison, Hellen Keller, Stevie Wonder, and Nick Vujicik, among others. In case you’re not familiar with their names or may have forgotten them, let me describe their personal qualities:

Edison was a lightbulb and phonograph inventor who was known for his famous edict: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Keller is blind and deaf who became the first such person to earn a bachelor’s degree and later on became an author, political activist, and lecturer. In recent memories—Stevie Wonder, whose real name is Stevland Hardaway Judkins, is a blind musician, singer, song writer, record producer, and multi-instrumentalist who is best remembered for the 1972 hit “You are the Sunshine of my Life.”

While Vujicic is a modern-day Christian evangelist and motivational speaker who was born without arms and limbs.

Their stories have one important lesson in life. If you want to succeed, never mind the cloud and its accompanying rain. Instead, always look out for the rainbow. If there’s no rainbow, at least be satisfied that the rain watered the farm, filled-up our dams, and made frogs sing their favorite songs. Never mind how old the stories are, but it’s timeless, positively evoking lessons. It’s like applying old solutions to new problems.

Therefore, how do you persevere despite all odds, including age and physical limitations? In the words of Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up!” Stay on course. Show commitment with relentless pride and positive energy in completing a task. Trying again and again and again like Watanabe who passed the bar exam after 17 attempts and Edison who learned 10,000 times from his failed experiments.

And of course, being patient as you work hard enough, day and night. That’s a common pattern when one tries to move forward. So the real questions—how do we explain the positive use of perseverance to our children. Well, at least, my wife can read Eric Carle’s “The Very Busy Spider” to our first grandson, Teo, now a 3.5 years old energetic, playful, and English-speaking pre-school boy.

The busy spider is one important lesson on perseverance. Don’t mind all the noises from literal and figurative animals. Spin your web to your heart’s content. Do your job and do it well. Fortunately, the world has a lot to offer. You can turn a problem into an opportunity or vice versa, depending on how you appreciate things.

NOTE: This article is a modified version of the author’s article in his Sep 4, 2016 “Beyond Buzzwords” column in The Manila Times. Image credit to