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!


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