How to Build the Skill of Tenacity in Your Life

Bill Abbate

Have you given the skill of tenacity much thought? Has anyone called you or someone you know tenacious? If so, take it as a compliment. If not, you stand to gain tremendous benefits from this article.

What comes to mind when you hear the word tenacious? Some people confuse tenaciousness with stubbornness, two words that could not be more different in their meaning.

Being tenacious is a good quality to have if accomplishment is something you aspire to in life. On the other hand, stubbornness can get in the way of accomplishment if it is not tamed.

"Tenacity is essential for accomplishment in anything you do. Without drive, determination and a strong-willed attitude, one's level of success at many endeavors will be limited in scope." – Gabriella Marigold Lindsay

What It Means to Be Tenacious

While tenacity and stubbornness are often listed in a thesaurus as synonyms, Let's turn to the dictionary to draw a distinction between the two words.

The Oxford Dictionary definition of tenacious is:

te·na·cious (adjective)
1. tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely.
- not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.
- persisting in existence; not easily dispelled.

To be tenacious means you have resolve, persistence, and determination. It means you know what you want and will stand firm. Without tenacity, you can come across as weak and unmotivated.

With tenacity, the whole world is your oyster!

It takes tenacity to push through life at times. To not give up and not give in. Tenacity gives you staying power and the ability to move or remove obstacles. Being tenacious puts your life on a different course, with a different trajectory.

Can you be too tenacious? As is true with any strength, it is possible to overuse it. You want to stay aware of others and not steamroll everyone and everything in your path to get what you want, as a stubborn person might. You must consider people and the good you wish to accomplish.

Let's now look at the Oxford Dictionary definition of stubborn:

Stubborn (adjective)
1. having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
- difficult to move, remove, or cure.

This definition shows being stubborn is quite different than being tenacious. To be stubborn shows unwillingness to listen, move, heed, or otherwise pay attention to someone else. It's about resisting change.

An easy way to sum up the difference between tenacity and stubbornness is:

- Tenacity - usually referenced in a positive light
- Stubbornness - usually referenced in a negative light

It is, therefore, almost always good to be tenacious and not so good to be stubborn. To be stubborn is about clinging to what you know while being tenacious is about steadily moving forward.

Tenacity is a great skill and way of being to develop in your life.

"Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness." – Thomas Henry Huxley

Benefits of Tenaciousness

The benefits of developing tenaciousness are many. How would you like to improve or significantly increase your:

  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Decisiveness
  • Resilience
  • Fearlessness
  • Indispensability
  • Openness to change
  • Motivation
  • Ability to earn respect
  • Ability to self-regulate
  • Ability to overcome rejection and failure
  • Ability to build a team or company
  • Ability to find the positive and dismiss the negative
  • Sense of purpose
  • Success!
"It's how tenacious you are that will determine your success," – Steve Ballmer

Not a bad list of benefits! Can one skill provide all of this? Absolutely! An often-overlooked benefit of improving one skill in your life is that many other skills are lifted in the process.

Now that we understand what tenacity is and some of its benefits, how does one improve this skill?

Building the Skill of Tenacity

It starts by making up your mind to win and be a winner! Keep moving toward what you want. Don't give up on your dream, and don't give in to quitting.

Hold on to what you believe. Be resolute and determined. Be open and willing to learn. Don't let failure stop you; instead, see the opportunity in it. Be willing to listen, adjust, and change while fighting for what you value.

Here are some things you can work on to build tenaciousness in your life:

  • Set clear goals
  • Manage your thinking
  • Develop a vision for what you want
  • Learn from mistakes, both yours and others
  • Become a leader in your life and of others
  • Never allow the fear of failing to control you
  • Never give up or quit on your dreams
  • Find the benefits in adversity
  • Surround yourself with tenacious people
  • Stand from in reality
  • Reject mediocrity
  • Change expectations to intentions
  • Aim high!

Each of the above is self-explanatory to anyone desiring to build their skill of tenacity. If they are not clear to you, I suggest finding a mentor or coach to help you.

"The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity." – Amelia Earhart


See tenacity for what it is - a good thing for anyone desiring to take more control of their destiny in life. As you improve the skill of tenaciousness, you will grow as a person, and your achievements will eclipse most of those around you.

By building the skill of tenacity in your life, you will become far above average in every way. You will excel as an employee, colleague, leader, spouse, friend, and human being!

I challenge you to take this final quote to heart. May it make a difference in your life and your future!

"Tenacious people don't rely on luck, fate, or destiny for their success. And when conditions become difficult, they keep working." – John C. Maxwell

Comments / 0

Published by

Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

More from Bill Abbate

Comments / 0