GUEST POST from Dennis Stauffer
I suspect you’ve heard all your life that it’s important to be persistent, whether that’s studying hard, practicing a sport, launching a new business, or attempting some innovation. You’re told that you need to stick with it until you find success. You need to have GRIT.
But what’s so often lost in that advice is that there’s more than one way to be persistent, and which one you have can make a HUGE difference.
The first kind of persistence is sticking with something despite setbacks. That’s the marathoner who pushes through exhaustion and pain. It’s the student who studies until they really “get” the subject matter. It’s the entrepreneur putting in long hours to pursue a dream. That kind of persistence sees a target, pushes toward it, and blocks out any distractions that keep them from pursuing it.
The other kind of persistence is about being creative and resourceful. It’s trying more than one way to reach your goals, and sometimes adjusting those goals to fit the realities you confront. It’s the entrepreneur that pivots to a new business model because the first one isn’t working. It’s the student who changes their career plans because it better fits their personal strengths and preferences. It’s the athlete who changes their technique to improve rather than just practicing the same approach.
Type 1 versus Type 2
These are radically different—opposing—strategies, and you can be quite good at one of them and lousy at the other.
That first kind of persistence is helpful when things are predictable and the rules are clear, when you know what will work. You just need to go do it. That’s useful at times, but much of life rarely works that way.
The challenges you face are often not so clear, and one of the biggest mistakes you can make is thinking they are when they’re not. That’s the entrepreneur that falls in love with an idea and keeps pursuing it long after getting signals that it’s not really working. Thinking: if I just push a little longer. When they need to change course.
It’s called being stubborn.
Skilled innovators—and those who are most effective generally—favor that second kind of persistence. They don’t just keep plugging along. They’re willing to rethink their strategy, seek feedback and gain new insights. Instead of assuming they know what works, they strive to figure out what works.
That’s not mindless pushing, and it’s not just trying random alternatives. It’s a disciplined process you can learn. A process of innovation that reflects a mindset that values flexibility, adaptability and resourcefulness, more than raw determination.
Which kind of persistence do you believe in? Which do you use?
Here is the video version of this post for all of you:
Image Credit: Pexels
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