perseverance versus obstinacy

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”

—Henry Ward Beecher, 19th Century Cleric

Image of a mother holding a baby

Image from Flickr by Darren Johnson

Have you ever tried to lift a small child who did not want to be picked up? The obstinacy of these little ones makes that 35-pound two-year-old feel like a ton of dead weight!

On the other hand, what it is like when this same child wants to leap into your arms with excitement and great enthusiasm?  The child is light as a feather.


Where in your world are you experiencing obstinacy and a strong “won’t” from those around you?

How can you rework these relationships to agree and align on a common future in which all parties pursue a common goal?

In the Real World

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm. In the real world all rests on perseverance.”

–Johann Wolfgang Goethe, 19th Century German writer and statesman

image from

image from

Who doesn’t admire and become inspired by the enthusiastic leader with a great idea? It is pretty easy to get caught up in the possibilities of some new and better future.

When reality sets in, we all would note that only a very tiny set of these ideas ever come to fruition. Rigorous execution of a great or even good idea is priceless in our world of metrics and quantifiable results.


How can you use a “what gets measured gets done” perspective in your personal and professional world? Consider generating the necessary perseverance to have your best and most enthusiastically shared idea become real.


“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”

—Walter Elliot, 19th Century Scottish Politician

Image from

Image from

My daughter Rachel is one of the hardest working, most persevering people I know.

Over a six-year period during college and a few years beyond, she was involved in a 12-week summer sales program in which she worked over 80 hours each week.

Despite many challenges including bad weather, barking dogs, and of course, tons of rejection, she was committed to selling high-quality educational products. She broke her day into two-hour manageable blocks of time, which helped her manage her efforts in small short races, instead of being overwhelmed by the long road ahead.


How can you use Rachel’s strategy – running many short races one after the other – to demonstrate the perseverance you need to win your most important personal and professional races?