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Tenacity

November 23, 2009

College football bowl games and professional football playoff games will provide a backdrop for holiday entertainment during the coming weeks. At one time or another, most all of us will find ourselves captivated by the spirit of a determined underdog’s bid for victory. For a few brief moments we will adopt, as our own, a distant group of strangers in their tenacious struggle for triumph. Win or lose, we will admire their ‘tenacity’.

‘Tenacity’ is a great word. It at once captivates the spirit of a ferocious nose tackle battling on the gridiron, a child struggling with its first step, and an elderly person continuing to meet their daily challenges. ‘Tenacity’ is a quality that we all admire. It is the key to success and dignity throughout life. Your business is no exception.

Different directions are periodically given for the path to business success. Managers are encouraged to search for excellence, adopt foreign management approaches, seek corporate renewal, foster entrepreneurship, and to place the customer first. All of which may be sound advice from time to time. Over the long run however, one characteristic common to all success is ‘tenacity’.

Tenacity doesn’t mean mindlessly sticking to the same thing forever. It does mean giving your best, unrelenting effort to your chosen endeavor. It means thinking through your commitments, and when you make them, mean them. It means not quitting when the going gets tough, because it surely will. It means meeting adversity with resolve.

There is a big difference between stupidity and tenacity. Tenacity is playing your heart out in the second half, even if you’re losing 35 to 0. If your opponents won the first half 35 to 0, you can win the second half by the same margin. Stupidity is trying to replay the game after its over. A good businessman knows the difference.

Great ideas, new technology, good timing, and ample finances are all thought to be key elements of the successful entrepreneurial formula. No ingredient is more important than a willingness to tenaciously pursue your goals once committed to a course of action. Major accomplishments rarely come easily or quickly.

How many times have you heard the expression, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” I would suggest that if somethings worth doing, it’s worth doing as well as you can, whether that’s perfect or not.

Too often people are deterred from doing things simply because they can’t do them to perfection. There will always be a lot of reasons not to do something, but as long as you have one good reason to try, go ahead. If you want to do it and it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing as best you can. Success is frequently achieved far short of perfection.

Be tenacious. If there is a goal that you want to accomplish, don’t be deterred from pursuing it because it is difficult or because you question your ability to achieve it. The winners of the world accomplished their objectives because they were tenacious, not because they were heavy favorites.

It is too easy for some to look upon the success of others and attribute it to factors they had no control over. The winners were luckier, smarter, stronger, or richer. All those things may be true, but most assuredly the winners always worked harder. Tenacity in pursuit of their objective and perseverance in the face of adversity are a common characteristics of successful business owners.

There are times when good fortune appears to shine more favorable on some than others. Nevertheless, the long races are not always won by the swiftest, the smartest, the wealthiest, or those who got a head start. Those that are blessed with good fortune will soon find their success fleeting if they don’t develop the tenacious work habits shared by those less gifted. Good luck and natural gifts rarely last a lifetime.

And just like some of the underdogs on the gridiron, whose struggle will at first appear to have been in vain when the final score is posted, the process will be more valued than the prize. Maintaining your self respect while earning the respect of others as you tenaciously pursue your goals, is perhaps the greatest victory of all. In the long run, tenacity in the face of adversity is the real measure of a winner.

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