Don’t Confuse Stubbornness with Determination

You’ve heard the saying, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” In fact, you probably live by it. It’s a good motto to have, right? All the best bosses have it, don’t they?

Actually, no. it’s a reason why so many leaders fail.

There is a fine line between determination and stubbornness, and if you cross it, you’re going to be just like Sisyphus, trying to push that boulder up the hill. You’ll move it an inch, and it’ll go back down. Then, you’ll start all over again, just because you’re too stubborn.

Instead of going by the saying, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” use this adage:

Be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your approach to achieving them.

To put it another way, change your plan, but keep the same goal.

This begs the question, are you stubborn or just determined? Let’s look at some signs that stubbornness is becoming an issue. Then, you can make the change before you become yet another ineffective leader.

“Will” Power vs. “Won’t” Power

First, understand that determination is all about “will” power. It’s what drives you to work late at night, so you can reach your goals faster, just as it’s the reason you go to bed at a decent time and rise early. That’s will power, and it is a motivating force for reaching your goals. You can never have enough will power.

Stubbornness is all about “won’t” power. You won’t give up because you are afraid of what that means. Giving up is failure, and you’ve come so far. Abandoning everything now would be catastrophic.

Changing plans is not an act of abandonment. It is about common sense and wanting to succeed. You need to reframe the way you think of changing your plans. You are still going after the same goal, so you aren’t giving up. You are just changing the road you take to get there.

Think About Results

You will also notice a difference when it comes to results. Yes, it takes a long time to achieve big goals, but you should still notice some results along the way. Remember, your goals should be SMART, which means they should be measurable. You should break them up into pieces and measure your progress.

Stubbornness does not generate positive results. You work toward a goal, but you don’t make any real progress toward it. Yet, you keep on moving forward, somehow expecting the results to change.

Determination brings about results. Those results might not be quick, but you continue to move in the right direction. As long as you are moving in the right direction, you are doing the right thing and should continue to follow your plan. You will eventually reach your goal. It might not be as quick as you would like, but you’ll get there, and you can celebrate when you do.

Consider Adaptability

You also must consider adaptability when deciding if you’re determined or stubborn. As a rule, stubbornness isn’t adaptable. You bang your head against the same wall day in and day out, without fail. You don’t want to change a thing, so you don’t. You continue to complete the same actions, regardless of how miserable you are.

Determination is adaptable. You realize you will encounter some roadblocks, and you are willing to make adjustments along the way. That means you are willing to change the plan because it isn’t working.

Think of it this way. If the GPS tells you to go a certain way, but you realize the bridge is out, will you keep going that same way anyway, just because that’s part of the plan? No, you will take an alternative route. The same is true in the business world. When you can’t reach your goals taking one route, it’s time to turn and go a different direction. You have to be adaptable if you’re going to succeed.

The Takeaway

Determination is an essential aspect of success in the business world. You have to be willing to continue moving forward, even when things don’t work out the way you wanted.

However, it’s easy to end up acting out of stubbornness and thinking it’s determination. It’s close to impossible to succeed if you’re stubborn. You have to be willing to make changes, so you can reach your goals. Often, the first plan you make won’t work, and you will need to go back to the drawing board. Your goal will remain the same, but your plan for achieving it will be different. You might need to make minor changes, or you might need to scrap your plan and start all over.

Assess your actions to determine if you’re acting out of stubbornness or determination. If it’s stubbornness, roll up your sleeves, and make a new plan.

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