What would you rather be remembered for, being persistent or tenacious? Have you thought about the difference between them? Which is preferable for leadership? I know which one I want to be known for.

TenacityThink about it. Persistence is doing something again and again until it works. It sounds like ‘pestering’ for a reason. Telemarketers are persistent. Not my preferred way of doing business. Not the way I want to be remembered.

Here’s the contrast. Tenacity is using new information and insight to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work (inspired by Seth Godin). Now, that’s what I want to be known for and remembered for. How about you?

Leaders are learners. Leaders quickly learn that just doing more of the same thing that isn’t working but somehow expecting different results, is the recipe for frustration. Remember that persistence is doing the same thing again and again thinking that somehow it will finally begin to work. Not a great leadership quality, correct?

Here’s what I’ve learned about developing tenacity in leadership:

Tenacity2Tendencies Tend to Be Learned – I know that some people tend to give up quickly and some seem eager to look for new routes when there is a detour in the road. My observation is that such tendencies come from our family experiences. My father was very solution-focused. If one way didn’t work, he would look for another way. I learned that approach to life. You can learn a new way if you didn’t have a tenacious model.

A Compelling Vision is Critical – If you have clarity and focus about the preferred future, it makes all the difference in the world. If you are lacking vision, you will find it most difficult to be tenacious. A compelling vision is the prime motivation for exploring every possible option. There will always be speed bumps, potholes and detours on the road to success. Mary Kay Ash said it well, For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action. You just have to find it. When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.”

Confidence in Your Calling – I have no clue how one can be tenacious if you don’t have a clear sense of purpose in who God has created you to be and how He wants you to use your time, talent and treasure. My mission statement is to “inspire transformissional living” in others. If you aren’t on a purposeful mission in life, it will be difficult to be motivated and tenacious about anything meaningful. Get clear on your mission and calling and perseverance gets a lot easier.

Journey with Others – There’s an old Africa proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to far, go together.”  I’ve discovered that building a team around a focused vision makes it much easier to be tenacious. Empowering others on the team to be innovative and creative helps immensely when it comes to finding new pathways to achieve a common goal. And the caring support of others during moments of discouragement is essential over the long haul.

I’m sure there is more to be said on this topic. But these four come to the top of my mind. What would add to the list? All of us would love to hear it in the comment section below. Thanks!


3 responses to Persistent or Tenacious?

  1. sharon43 on November 22, 2013 at 12:09 AM Reply

    Excellent essay today. Of great value, regardless your age. Thanks, Dennis.

  2. Flora Sanchez on November 21, 2013 at 12:28 PM Reply

    Thank you so much for this article.

    I could identify with “Tenacity is using new information and insight to make new decisions to find new pathways to find new ways to achieve a goal when the old ways didn’t work (inspired by Seth Godin).” I am looking for new solutions if I see that what I am doing isn’t working for me.

    Using God’s plan, mission and purpose has given me so many different experiences/signs in my career & life by utilizing my time, talent and treasure. When all doors have closed for me, I always looked for the open window. The importance of having a vision has always been part of my plan ever since I was a little child. I have never given up on my hopes and dreams, anything is possible as long as you put all of your efforts and don’t give up regardless on what happens.

    Most importantly is believing in others that truly believe in you because they can play a crucial role in your life and/or career. These are the ones that will be part of your mission and success.

    Most importantly, I always had a sense of confidence not only in me but also i have displayed it in others to be the best that he/she can be. It’s always very important not to lose faith especially when things don’t turn out like they should be.

  3. Lee Carnahan on November 21, 2013 at 7:42 AM Reply

    Don’t cling so tightly to your ideas that you fail to see the wisdom of those surrounding you. Remember that we can learn from everyone. Don’t confuse stubbornness with tenacity.

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