Tenacity: Striving Ever Forward

by
Connor Shirton
“Reality is harsh. It can be cruel and ugly. Yet no matter how much we grieve over our environment and circumstances nothing will change. What is important is not to be defeated, to forge ahead bravely. If we do this, a path will open before us.”
― Daisaku Ikeda

 

Tenacity can be described in plainest terms as determination or persistence. Intrinsic to the success of countless species, it is easily observable in nature: a successful cheetah, though hungry and exhausted from dozens of failed hunts, will instead examine its past failures, and approach its quarry from another angle until success. However, before this becomes a full-blown article on cheetah behaviour, I’m going to turn our attention to us humans (with apologies to any non-human reading this).

 

To further understand the nuanced human side of tenacity, I’d like to briefly elaborate on why we should consider tenacity as a discipline that must be honed, instead of a character trait that some of us are simply born with. Those of us who exercise in a gym remember what our first few workouts were probably like: everything is confusing, everything hurts, we feel weak(especially when compared to others), and you wake up the next day stiff a shell, and even after all that the mirror is insisting that you haven’t yet earned the physique of a Greek god. Many of us begin to drop off in those early stages, impatient and not keen on subjecting ourselves to that level of discomfort. Others, however, develop an evolving program they stick with long enough to see results and the inherent discomfort becomes manageable or even welcome. As primitive an analogy as that is, it does paint clearly our options: To give up every time we feel some level of friction, or to face challenges head-on and be willing to put ourselves through some tribulation. The more we put ourselves through discomfort and the more we take risks, the better prepared we become for future obstacles. The more rejections we suffer as entrepreneurs, the better off we’ll be for future opportunities.

 

To develop our tenacity, in short, we must face any obstacle that comes our way as an opportunity to grow.

As a final point on stubbornly trudging through disaster, I’d like to remind the reader that weathering the blows of failure and difficulty is not enough to succeed, we must be moving forward. These obstacles can only teach us and toughen us if we take the time to reflect on them. Many of us become trapped in a cycle of what we could call Sisyphean Masochism: we blindly, enthusiastically, jump into every possible challenge without clear intent, knowing in all likelihood we won’t succeed, and then hurling ourselves into the next similar situation without having learned from the last. It’s like Sisyphus, who was condemned to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a mountain ,only to have it roll back to the bottom just shy of the mountain’s zenith. This approach will certainly beat you up, but you’ll be right back where you started. It’s crucial that we not only face our obstacles but retrospectively grow from them, so we don’t catch ourselves in a cycle with little chance of progression. Those small, stubborn steps forward, chin raised, will be all it takes to get where you want to be. Always be adapting. As the Roman philosopher Lucretius puts it: “constant dripping hollows out a stone”.

Writer and Content Developer