While reading an article by Ryan Holiday of Entrepreneur.com about entrepreneurs and persistence, I came across a word I had never seen before: pertinacity. I had a vague idea what it meant, but looked it up to be sure. Here is the definition from Vocabulary.com, “Pertinacity is a quality of sticking with something, no matter what. It’s a type of persistent determination. People who have pertinacity won’t give up, and they stick with things doggedly. Pursuing a difficult career requires pertinacity. Pertinacity is a mix of courage, conviction, and a little stubbornness.” What a great word that encompasses so many other words. If you look closely, you can see parts of persistence and tenacity within pertinacity and I wonder if that is where it came from.
Steven Schussler in It’s a Jungle in There calls it pit-bull determination. (Schussler) Notice above, it is defined as sticking to things doggedly. For all of us dog owners, we know exactly what that means. Dogs will never give up if they want out of the house or the yard or they think it is time for their walk. They will also sniff and sniff and sniff until they find that perfect spot or they move on. The question I must ask myself and others is, do we have that pertinacity? Are we willing to stick with our ideas when it seems that no one is on our side? Can we see the light at the end of the tunnel when the monies promised do not appear? Do we stay confident about ourselves when all around us others are doubtful of the idea?
“Yes, I yell out, because that is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur can have.” Since starting this graduate program, I had someone say they could never see me owning my own business and they weren’t talking about my age when I finish the program. Talk about feeling one’s blood instantly boil. What I chose to do was ignore the comment and continue with the pursuit of this degree: pertinacity. That was one of my examples and I am sure each person has examples of his or her own. Schussler uses President Lincoln’s life as an example of persistence and what a great one it is. (Schussler) I am challenging you to make a list of your own pertinacity. If I had to bet, it is already a trait you possess.
If you are doubting your own pertinacity, here are my suggestions in helping you to create your list:
- Ask a family member, close friend or co-worker about a time they saw you face big challenges and how you got through them. Have them write it down. Pertinacity
- Write down a time you faced a difficult situation and you refused to give up. How did you persist?
- If you’ve ever owned a puppy, write down how you trained it to behave. Dogged determination ‘no pun intended’.
- If you have children, my guess is they have presented you with many examples of persistence? Write them down. Patience.
- Have you ever taken up a new sport? Write about that experience. If you are still participating, I bet you are better today than the first time out. Perseverance.
- Grab the cell phone and record yourself telling the story from #2. Watch it when you find your persistence waning? Firmness.
- Have you had a health scare? Write about how you made it through. Resolution.
Two of my favorite role models for pertinacity are Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. Imagine if Anne Sullivan or Helen Keller had given up. Being an entrepreneur means facing excitement, risk, failure, disappointment, challenge, change, frustrations, exhilaration, good days, bad days, and great days. How will we get through them? With a big dose of pertinacity — my new favorite word.
Resources and Links:
Schussler, Steven It’s A Jungle In There. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010.
“The Entrepreneur’s Secret Weapon: Persistence. (See General Grant.) Entrepreneur.com, 2014
Web. 6 May 2014.