What’s Your Capacity for Tenacity?
When I was eight years old, my mother was interviewed on the local news in New York City for her impressive track-record of asking for – and getting – what she wanted from customer service. It didn’t matter whether it was a product, service or something else – once my mom had decided that something wasn’t quite right, she didn’t stop until she righted that wrong. And 9 times out of 10, she got what she asked for.
The word that the reporter used to describe her was “tenacious”, meaning “tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely” or “not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.” She liked that word a lot. (He also described her as “comely” – meaning “pleasant to look at; attractive” – which she also appreciated.)
Whether you’re a professional or volunteer leader, being tenacious is part of the job. Sticking to a mission, a vision, a set of values or a course of action is critical to overcoming obstacles. Of course, you might need to course-correct or consider new factors as they arise in order to be context-savvy, relationship-aware, flexible and resilient, but being able to say “I said I would do it”, “I did it” and “what’s next?” are hallmarks of the kind of leader that others want to follow.
So, how tenacious are you in getting done what you’ve committed to?
Review your Capacity for Tenacity. The more you say yes to, the more tenacious you are:
- I don’t let “reasons” stand in my way of getting the job done. If something isn’t working, I find another way that will.
- I don’t let the fact that something is hard stop me. In fact, I do the hardest things first.
- My actions stem from my values. Once I have aligned my actions with my values, I do whatever it takes (ethically) to accomplish my goals.
- When a task seems so huge that it is daunting, I break it down into simple, doable steps and start on the steps, one at a time.
- My mood doesn’t determine what I get accomplished. If I’ve committed myself to marketing tasks every Wednesday, for example, I don’t let “not being in the mood” for marketing take me out.
- I may feel fear, but I take action toward what I want in spite of that.
- I know that others have faced similar obstacles and have prevailed, so I ask those people for their perspective or advice.
- I’m aware that the biggest obstacles I’ll face are the limiting beliefs that can crop up in my own mind, such as: “I can’t” or “It’s beyond me” or “I’ll fail.”
- If I don’t know what it will take to accomplish my goals, I find out.
- I feed and monitor my energy—physical, mental, emotional—so that I can consistently perform at my peak.
- When something needs to get done, I turn a laser focus onto it until it’s completed.
- I engage other stakeholders in the goal, and lead them so that they come on board from a place of commitment rather than compliance.
- I recognize when I’m being aggressive (trying to meet my needs by ignoring or bumping up against others’ needs) and shift into being assertive (trying to meet my needs while respecting the needs of others).
- I actively invite feedback, and use it as an opportunity to get better.
- I take the time to celebrate when I complete my goals, knowing that this feeds my strength to go onto the next one.