How to be tenacious


I’ve already talked about the wisdom of tenacity, that I believe that those who power through will eventually succeed, even when it seems like you’re not getting any traction.

But if this isn’t something that comes naturally to you, how can you connect with this idea?

Luckily, tenacity, like so many other skills, can be learned. Here are some ideas for those who wish use persistence to win:

Find something you love

This must come first. You must find work that you love, and I mean love intrinsically. If you love work primarily for the plaudits you get because of it, that is not intrinsic love. It needs to be something you’d enjoy doing even if no one knew you were doing it.

Find something sustainable

Pacing is the key to longevity. You may love writing music, but saying you’ll write a song every day may just not be doable for you. (Unless you’re this guy.) Saying you’ll blog every day might be crazy for you. (Unless you’re this guy.) The risk if you try something that’s unsustainable is that you’ll burn out, which is the enemy of tenacity.

Don’t focus on external progress

Nothing can torpedo progress by looking at externals. This is mainly because success (by most metrics) doesn’t follow a linear pattern, or really any pattern at all. If you see few external results, you will extrapolate from there and assume that this is how it will always be. And then you will be more likely to quit. Don’t do it.

Focus on your internal progress

Instead, look inward. If you are really invested in your work, then you’ll want to be as good at it as possible. Luckily, you’ve got the first two points above on your side, and it’s kind of axiomatic that the more you do something the better you’ll get it at. So track by your own metrics your progress, how what you did today compares to a year ago, or whatever your timescale is. The goal here is to get better, not to worry so much about how it’s coming across to others.

Re-evaluate less

It is conventional wisdom that reevaluating your strategy/tactics is a good move, and to a certain extent, I agree. The problem comes is when you’re not giving your current strategy enough time to succeed, so you continually change direction. This has the analogous effect of constantly changing the where you’re swimming; all you do is create waves, and not actually go anywhere. Followed the points above, and then trust it. Which reminds me…

Have faith

This is a tough one, as it’s either a no-brainer (if you have it) or irritating (if you don’t). I won’t claim to be able to teach you how to have faith in yourself and your work. All I can say is that if you focus on all of the above, you won’t have much of any space for doubt, which is a kind of faith.

I continue to believe that tenacity is a superpower. It can be learned, and it can be practiced, and it will help you get where you need to go.

Don’t stop. Not yet.

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