Given the choice between ‘stubborn’ and ‘smart,’ I may have to choose ‘stubborn.’ I think it is an undervalued attribute and often takes second-fiddle to more amenable traits. But if I am going to play the desert island game, I will take stubbornness with me, plus Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, and a violin (I have never had the time to learn how to play, and wouldn’t that be the perfect time?)
No one goes through life without getting just kicked in the teeth from time to time. It is what you do next that matters. How do you handle it? Are you stubborn?
Stubbornness is standing up, drenched in your own sweat, saying “Enough. No more! Let’s do that –my way!”
Stubborn is getting knocked down six times, standing up seven.
Stubborn is finding a way when no way is available.
Stubborn is being tired and then going for a run and deciding to write that blog anyway. (Guess how my day was?)
Stubborn is not resting on what you did last quarter, last month, last week. It is what you do next.
Your other traits are fine. Smart is great; personable is a necessity for organizational harmony. But I have had to – in the past – pick between two people – one, the personification of smart, the other of stubborn. I bet you would be like me and pick the first candidate. I feel like I was more often wrong than I was right with this one.
Comes Down To Execution
I keep coming back to stubborn to make a point. What you want – ideally – is a balance in your people. The uber-smart, the peacemakers, the leader, the analyst, the risk taker, the crossing guard, the smooth talker, etc. But we tend to value smart over tenacious. We tend to select personable over relentless.
By my own yardstick, I consider myself a success. I have become a person with a solid voice in my discipline. I would consider myself smart, and on a good day, with enough caffeine, even clever. But smart told me to quit, that I was better than where I was, that they didn’t get me. Stubborn kept me there and kept me plugging along. Stubborn led me here. It was my internal compass.
Too Much Of A Good Thing
I had an early mentor in my career who advocated for “a little fire in the belly.” He said that right up until the time he fired me. I thought the key word there was “fire,” he thought it was “little.” Too much fire makes you irascible. No one wants irascible.
In the final analysis, life is about balance. It is being a bit of everything – without an unmanageable amount of any one thing. But, a “little more fire in the belly” is always a good thing.
How To Find A Fighter; Weed Out The Jerk
It is easy to bulldoze over people to get results. To think only you matter. That is not stubborn. Don’t confuse the two. Finding stubborn is relatively easy. It starts with passion and is seen in the glint of the eye. Talk to your prospects and ask them about what they do and why they do it. The fighters will light up when they talk about their accomplishments and their career choices. You can literally see it on their face. They will fight tooth and nail to keep doing what they are doing. They love it.
The other won’t show you that fire. You will see disdain or similar traits. It is almost a color. Gray, maybe?
I consider myself lucky enough to be surrounded by world-class leaders who I admire with the right dose of stubborn, of smart, of nice, and inspiring.
I know what I am going to fight for today. How about you?