The little line between tenacity and being plain dumb…

You’ve tried and tried to make that “thing” work… is it time to quit or keep going?
Exploring what makes or breaks people

Whether you’re running a business, trying to decide if you should change careers or perhaps making that big decision that could change how you live your life, most of us fall into the trap of becoming frozen, afraid to make the choice that could define the journey forward.

In my own experience, one of the questions I have repeatedly found myself asking is, “Where is the fine line between tenacity and being just plain dumb?”

Many of us have read articles or listened to TED talks where a person shares their story, weaving in a climax of some crazy thing they did that most “normal” people would have shuddered at.

We’ve all heard of the founder that re-mortgaged their home, sold their car and took out £25,000 of loans in order to push their business past failure and into success.  Or perhaps you’ve read a story about someone that sold everything to travel the world, only to become a travel blogger and now they get paid to do so. Maybe you’ve over heard a conversation about a guy that literally spent every waking moment working on a project that they believed in, letting their relationships and general wellness break down but creating a masterpiece.

These stories inspire us and motivate us to take chances, pursue risks and stick it out through thick and thin. For many, it’s what drives their belief and keeps them going when everyone else has lost faith.

But everyone loves an underdog.

Everyone loves to see someone push through the impossible and prove the nay-sayers wrong. It gives us the feeling that we could do it too. That maybe, just maybe, we’ll rise above all the hurdles and challenges that life throws our way to come out the other side victorious.

Because of the risks that were taken, perhaps even needed, many of us feel that if we just possessed the tenacity to push through, the light would makes itself clear and shine down on us.

We can’t quit now because just a little more time might mean we come to a breakthrough.

This is the trap that I felt myself in when I was trying to figure out what to do with my last business. It’s also the same trap that leads to founders loosing it all or driving their start up into the ground.

“If I can just get enough capital to do this thing, then it will push us through this tough spot and we’ll look back on it one day and see this as a defining moment”

“If I can just hold off paying this invoice, then I can afford to keep my start up alive for another few months and we should be fine after that”

“If I just spend a little longer, work a little harder and sleep a little less, I can get through this”

So what is it that defines what makes the difference between those that keep pushing forward and succeed and those that just keep blindly trying to make something work?

Well, two things.

Luck and Outcome.


Luck is pretty self explanatory. Any down to earth person would agree that there is very much a element of luck that drive success.

Whether it’s being at the right place at the right time or being the son or daughter fortune and money, luck can play at huge part in the results we get.

It’s not all chance though, you can have an impact of your luck. Ensuring you attend the best networking event in your area will almost certainly increase your chances of meeting the right person or customer. Saying yes to opportunities that come up for you surely will effect the chances of finding the right one for you. Having a friend invite you to some exclusive event for high net-worth singles definitely will increase your chances of finding some sugar daddy so that you can retire and live the high life.

And on and on… you get what I mean.


It seems very obvious but it took me a long time to figure this out. The only reason we see the crazy things that others have done to be tenacity is because it ultimately worked out for them.

Take the exact same scenarios that I discussed at the beginning of this article and imagine that it all fell apart.

The founder that sold everything when their business was failing ended up closing the business regardless of the money he threw at it but now he also found himself homeless and in debt.

The person that left everything behind to travel the world was never spotted for her talent of capturing pictures and stories of the places she visited and now she’s running out of money, missing her family and finds herself stuck in a foreign country.

The guy that let his family and relationship slip away so that he could completely focus on his work ended up never making a master piece and simply found himself increasing lonely and left behind.

How do you view their story now? Do you still feel like their risky decisions were worth it? Do we still feel inspired to do the same?

In the first scenario, these people were tenacious. They kept going even though the risk was high and people told them they were playing with fire.

In the second scenario, most of us would come to the conclusion that these people were pretty stupid to keep madly charging in same direction while ignoring all the warning signs and red flags.

It was the outcome that ultimately defined the resilience or stupidity of their decision. Only with hindsight can we really understand the impact and result of our actions and choices.

Overall, I still believe that certain risks and crazy ideas must be pursued. However, when you find yourself in a situation where you are unsure of whether to quit or to keep pushing on, there will never be a clear way of knowing if you are on the side of tenacity or stupidity. The best we can do is try to mitigate our loss when things go wrong and ensure we have all the information we can get in order to make an educated choice….

And even then, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

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