I saw a tweet stating, “Stubbornness is not persistence,” which rang true to my mindset around this topic. The tweet went on to explain that a stubborn person ignores overwhelming evidence out of fear of being wrong which is a huge red flag. On the other hand, a persistent person is convinced that they are right and know that proof is just around the corner.
Persistence is a value I try to teach my kids and a value I look for while interviewing. We all want to be persistent, but when does it cross a line? The tweet sums it up well; persistence becomes stubbornness when you ignore overwhelming evidence out of fear of being wrong.
At Service Express, we talk about progress over perfection. With this mindset, we’re prepared to adjust along the way. We talk about how we’re going to make changes and fix what’s not working as we move forward. If we can’t fix it, we change it. If we can’t change it, we trash it. This is where the overwhelming evidence comes in. When you keep trying to fix something, but the overwhelming evidence is telling you it can’t be fixed, you need to scratch that plan and move on to a different strategy.
So why don’t people do that? We fear failure and our egos get in the way. It’s happened to me, and it can happen to anybody. We talk about failing forward, making mistakes, and learning from these mistakes. I’ve built my whole career on it. This all sounds great in hindsight, but when you’re in the middle of it and in the heat of the battle, nobody likes to admit they made a bad decision. We fear being wrong and looking bad in front of others, but what really makes us look bad is sticking with that wrong decision and ignoring the overwhelming evidence.
As a leader, sticking to a bad decision and ignoring the overwhelming evidence is when people will stop following you. From my experience, people will give you so much grace along the way if you admit your mistake, fix it and move forward. They’ll follow you anywhere knowing that you won’t get stuck if the overwhelming evidence tells you you’re wrong. When your persistence becomes stubbornness, that’s when they’ll bail.
Think about where you’re at in life personally and professionally and ask yourself two questions:
1) Are you ignoring overwhelming evidence?
2) Are you afraid of admitting you were wrong and changing course?
These two questions will give you the answer to whether you should stick with it or bail and move on.