Tenacity is a key component to success. We must have it to reach our goals. It’s the fuel that keeps us moving through the inevitable challenges. But how often do we take the time to stop and think about what tenacity really is? Let’s spend a minute to figure out what tenacity looks like and how we can create it to use to our advantage.
When I’m working with clients I often use the analogy of getting your screaming baby strapped into a car seat to illustrate tenacity. Because, if you have kids, you have experienced tenacity! When you are putting your child in their car seat your purpose is to make your baby safe. Your baby hates to feel confined and wants nothing to do with it. You can not reason with a baby or explain your logic so you must just make it happen. And, there is nothing worse than hearing your baby scream. It’s so difficult to hurdle the challenge of lovingly strapping them in as they arch away from the confinement and scream with all of their might. Your tenacity, however, dictates that the car will not move until the child is fully secure.
The dictionary has this definition: strength of will, strength of purpose. And in the car seat example, your strength of will is equal to your strength of purpose. You must have both to be tenacious.
A strong purpose without will or strong self discipline and you get nowhere. You’re like a race car in park, all the potential to move efficiently but you have no forward momentum.
On the other hand, strength of will without clear purpose and you are in constant motion seeking to achieve but in all different directions, more like a bumper car.
If I am wishy washy about my desire to reach a goal because I lack the fire of purpose I will be easily stopped by any challenge. I can tell myself that “it doesn’t really matter”, or, “this must be the sign that I am to work on something different.” It’s also easier to make excuses, “I just didn’t have time for it” or, “other things just seem more interesting.”
When I was in college it took me a long time to pick a major. So, while I was definitely driven to get my degree, I did not have a vision for the kind of impact I wanted to make in the world, so no specific purpose. It was, thus difficult to determine which classes I should take. It was a painful time. I would literally close my eyes, flip through the course catalog and drop my finger down on the page. If the class sounded remotely interesting, would get me closer to graduation and was at a convenient time and location, I signed up. I guarantee there were some missteps. And that feeling that comes with uncertainty and lack of direction was uncomfortable at best.
In contrast, once I had my specific vision of helping others to create more purposeful, fulfilling, balanced work, I was on fire and anxious to make my class selections each semester. Time, location, duration became much less important. The only thing that mattered was what I could glean from a class to use to fulfill my mission.
Where is your lack of purpose and mission robbing you of tenacity? What is driving your decisions? Are you living your life like you’re floating on a lazy river, just bumping along with the flow of what’s around you, or are you grabbing those paddles to accelerate and steer with all of your might?
My hope is that you will take the time necessary to get as clear as possible about your purpose and that you’ll utilize whatever accountability structures you need to create the self-discipline to do what’s necessary to get where you need to get. You have important work to do in this world – get to it!!