The Value Of Tenacity
Tenacity is one of my favourite words. When I was a contract IT technical writer my clients would describe me as tenacious. This was because I understood that I was about 56th on the priority list of my sources of technical information for the documents I was contracted to write. So I just stuck at it. When I couldn’t get the information I needed from them I made up what I thought was close to the point, knowing it was wrong and get them to review it. Their manager knew what I was doing so my butt was covered if they complained and I went through 2 – 3 hour review meetings of being told how wrong I was. I developed tough skin and just accepted that to get something done you had to be tenacious.
Why am I rabbiting on about that? Simply because I take being tenacious about things as perfectly normal, I had to be that way to get the job done and get paid. But I’m starting to realise a lot of people aren’t tenacious, they give up.
I’ve been thinking about tenacity lately because I’ve been given examples of it. I’ve been watching that horribly titled but interesting reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” (I loathe the idea of calling someone a loser – such a horrible, nasty, cruel thing to say and as if someone has the right to say that of another).
An interesting scene showed the four remaining women contestants discussing their experience of the program. Most had lost about 30 – 35 pounds (15 kg) each and had new faith in themselves. What I found most interesting and inspiring was the comment “I’m choosing to stick to it” (paraphrase).
I’ve been watching the stunning “Band of Brothers” series and amazed at what those men went through and did. How did they keep going under fire, through fear? I think tenacity; looking after your mates and doing the job made a big difference.
That’s the thing, sticking to something, being tenacious about it, seeing it through and doing the hard yards is what makes the difference. The mob quits. The successful ones stick to it. What “it” is doesn’t really matter. It can be weight loss, creating wellness, building a business, caring for a loved one in the hard times, getting a deposit together, fighting illness, getting that ideal job, finishing that course and getting that qualification, creating wealth, getting out of the poverty cycle, raising $10,000 for your target charity, changing the environment, anything you want to create, to change, to make happen.
Tenacity it about staying focused and understanding that things take time. It is about persevering. It can mean saying ‘get lost’ to the nay-sayers, those who say you can’t, you can’t achieve, you can’t make it work, you can’t do it. Well they can’t because they say it. You can because you choose to.
Tenacity is about sucking it in and just doing when you want to veg. It is about doing what is needed to be done to get where you want to be.
It is about figuring out where you are and where you want to be and then making the first step to get there. Don’t spend too much time on the map, on figuring out how to get there. Yes, you do need to know how to get there, you need a map, a business plan, a training plan, a saving plan, a plan. But don’t get bogged down in the paralysis of planning. So what if you make a step in the wrong direction – you at least get to learn which direction is wrong! Seriously, that is valuable! It helps you find out what is the right direction and you usually learn more than one good lesson at a time.
So many New Year resolutions aren’t enacted or if started, not followed through. The reasons for this can be as varied as there are stars but the ones that succeed have the ingredient of tenacity; of sticking with it. If you really want to make that change happen then you have to stick to it and forgive yourself for your humanity when you stumble. Pick yourself back up and keep going with it. So what if you miss 2 weeks at the gym, or have that packet of cigarettes? It only matters if you choose for that to stay the current state. It doesn’t matter if you dust yourself off and get back on with it.
I stopped smoking last year after 19 years of it being a solid part of my life. I believe I succeeded with it because I set myself up to achieve the goal, I’m stubborn and hate loosing face and I’m tenacious. I did it over a 12 month period. I learnt from my little business that it is what happens over 12 months that matters and it is the little things that add up. So I started by wearing patches to market so I wasn’t smoking round my customers. I learnt that I was still me without the smokes and the world didn’t fall down on top of me. So I extended the times when I wore the patches. I did this slowly through the year, only being consistent about the markets. I smoked less and accepted myself more. Until I realised in the 11 month my 12 months was nearly up. So then over the next 3 weeks I did the hard stuff and stopped. I had 3 bad mood days and it is good that I work at home alone! But you know what? People were so supportive and accepting, it was impressive. It made it easier. People really do want others to succeed. If they don’t they are unhappy within themselves and need to sort that out for themselves. You don’t have to take that on.
So now I am coming up to 12 months without a smoke. I still dream of it, I still want a smoke when I see someone light up on tv but it is a daily choice not to smoke and I’ll have that for life. But I now know I can achieve anything in my personal life.
I’ve been confident in my tenacity and ability to achieve in my professional life for many years but I had difficulty applying it to my personal life – apparently a common situation. But that has changed because I was tenacious about making a change to my life.
Tenacity is different to stubbornness. When you’re tenacious you sometimes need to go with the flow and be flexible. There is always more than one way to achieve a goal and usually at the beginning of the process, of the journey, you simply don’t have enough information or experience to know everything about it, to know exactly how to get where you want to be. You learn on the way and that’s where you need to be flexible.
When you’re stubborn you usually lose out on the good things, on the little gems along the way, the beautiful vistas that can be glimpsed by looking at things in a different way.
I’ve been very stubborn in my life and I think for myself it was a sign of my immaturity at the time. I missed out on so much. Thankfully I moved into a career where my stubbornness was moulded into tenacity.
There is also a difference between tenacity and flogging a dead issue beyond the point. Just like being stubborn, continuing to flog away achieves nothing. It means being too tunnel visioned and missing what is needed and what is going to make the difference. You can miss stunning opportunities when you’re not looking around, when there is only tunnel vision.
When I want to find out about something, to start something, to expand something I don’t expect it to be easy. I don’t even think about it being easy. I expect I’ll need to be tenacious, to be resilient, to follow leads that will lead to more leads to more leads and hopefully I’ll get to the gem – to the ideal supplier usually!
On the way I now know I’ll learn some great things, tid- bits of information that I love, meet some interesting people, see more of society that I didn’t know about before and enjoy the whole thing. I also know I could stop earlier in the process and settle for something that is general and easy but I won’t get that satisfaction, I won’t get that edge and I’ll miss out on a lot.
I don’t expect things to be easy. What is ‘easy’ anyway? Anything good needs to be achieved through effort, that’s part of the satisfaction.
So if you want to achieve that aim consider the benefits of being tenacious!
And remember, it is the Year of the Rooster – one of the most tenacious signs in the Chinese horoscope!