How Do You Know The Difference Between Persistence And Stubbornness?

I recently had a chat with a group of entrepreneurs and one question I got asked was about differentiating persistence and stubbornness. This is an important question, here I share my response…

Innovation is messy, it just doesn’t happen in a straight line. The entrepreneurs, innovators, anybody who achieves great outcomes, have many traits in common which help them push through the ups and downs: stubbornness and persistence.

But, many run into problems when they’re too stubborn and develop tunnel vision because they can’t see any other options; instead of taking another road they keep digging a hole.

Being stubborn can be confused with being persistent, but there is a difference. Grit, persistence, is what separates the greats from the average because they’re prepared to deal with setbacks which can derail many people.

So, how do you know the difference between persistence and stubbornness?

Persistence is about listening with curiosity. As I said above, nothing ever happens in a straight line so you have to adapt by learning from mistakes. You have to look forward to feedback, and approach it with an open mind instead of seeing it as criticism.

What does this look like in the world of entrepreneurship?

Take the idea of a business plan. Not business plan survives after contact with a customer. So, don’t believe that what you wrote down is exactly how it’s going to happen. The truth is this: customer discovery never ends.

I think a great way to frame the difference between persistence and stubbornness is to be stubborn on vision and flexible on details; which means you have strong opinions weakly held.