How to Know if You're Persistent or Stubborn

balancingToday’s discussion was inspired by a great post on the pitfalls of persistence, written by Michael Bailey of Mobasoft.

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george When Mary-Lynn first started brought this post up, I thought she was asking me if she was persistent … or stubborn. Now I do have an opinion on that!

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marylynn I have an opinion on George, too … so we decided to keep our opinions to ourselves.

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Michael asks if there is a difference between persistence and perseverance.

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marylynn I think there is – if things are working the way that you want them to, you have to be persistent with what’s making things work to persevere. Now, if things aren’t working out the way you want them to, then you have to change your course to persevere. So you can’t be persistent in the wrong thing.

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georgeI think it’s a matter of semantics. As a matter of fact, they are synonyms. I can respect the fine line that Mary-Lynn is drawing. But I’m going to be stubborn and stick with my original comment – they are one and the same.

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marylynn See, George just admitted that he’s stubborn! I agree that if you look it up, they are synonyms. But I equate persistence with action and perseverance with a destination.

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georgeSee how stubborn Mary-Lynn can be! And I was being persistent before. Mary-Lynn’s last comment is consistent with Seth Godin’s definition. Only he uses the word “persistence” instead of “perseverance.” He said, “Persistence isn’t using the same tactics over and over. That’s just annoying. Persistence is having the same goal over and over.”

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marylynn That’s interesting. Here’s an example – when I was in radio, I was very persistent about doing whatever I could to grow as a broadcaster.

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georgeSome might call it stubborn.

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marylynn But I got to the point, with my job, where I knew I couldn’t persevere. I had gone as far as it could take me. So I decided to walk away and start Bigg Success with George – I can still persist, grow, and learn more things, plus I can persevere on my own terms.

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One of the definitions of persistence, straight from Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, is stubbornness. If you keep running into a wall, you have to ask yourself if you’re being persistent or stubborn. Michael refers to it as “blind persistence.”

2 questions to ask with your end goal in mind

  • Am I doing the wrong thing?
    If this is the case, persisting is just plain stubbornness. Of course, it’s not always that clear-cut. You may have invested a lot of time and money into a project, a direction, or a business. But it’s not working. You don’t want to give up so you just keep trying. Try to determine if it can work by honestly assessing why it’s not working. 
  • Am I doing the right thing in the wrong way?
    You may be doing the right things to reach your end goal, but you haven’t mastered the right techniques to advance toward your goal. In this case, you must persist … but change your methods.What do you think?

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(Image by stevefaeembra,CC 2.0)

2 replies
  1. Michael Bailey
    Michael Bailey says:

    Great show and thanks for the mention.
    As I was listening, I was thinking about how most people seem to prefer using the word “Persistence” and not many people seem to say “Perseverance” – It’s almost as if the latter term denotes some sense of accomplishment, and people seem to be more comfortable with the struggle which comes from persistence.

    I used to think that I had many questions, but the deeper that I started looking within, I found that I had a lot of answers. The trick just might be to believe in yourself long enough to realize that you are doing the right thing.

    Reply

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