Be determined, not stubborn…

July 1, 2014

“Stubbornness is also determination.  It’s simply a matter of changing won’t power to will power.”  (Peter McWilliams) from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to talk about stubbornness as a characteristic of the “terrible twos’” in children and in many of our current legislators locally and on the national scene.

I also saw another post on this topic some time ago that serves as a warning not to let things get out of hand which might apply mainly to our Congressional representatives –

Determination becomes obsession and then it becomes all that matters. – (Jeremy Irvine)

stubborn muleAre there things that you are stubborn about, maybe bordering upon obsession? I suppose there’s a fine line between stubbornness and determination. My suspicion is that in many people stubbornness may be misdirected determination to achieve something that maybe they should not be striving to achieve in the first place – maybe something that is above their current skill or knowledge level. Sometimes that can lead to injuries as we stubbornly push beyond our limits, perhaps driven by obsession.

Obsession seems to me to be stubbornness unchecked by rational thought. For example, people who obsess about other people become stalkers. There is no rationality to what stalkers do to try to be with the people that they are obsessed about. They just need professional help.

Determination on the other hand would seem to be a rational commitment to achieve a goal in the face of obvious or known obstacles. The determined student studies longer and harder than others toreaching for stars achieve academic excellence. The determined worker puts forth the extra effort required to get ahead. The determined suitor does not stalk; but, rather is patient, persistent and does the things that he/she knows the person of their desire will like.

There are things that determination or even stubbornness/obsession cannot achieve. I accept the fact that I cannot run a 4-minute mile, no matter how determined or stubborn about it I may become. The fact that I accept that limitation is not defeat; it is the rational acceptance of my personal physical limitations. Losing the ability to see where the limits are (or should be) is what moves one beyond stubborn and into obsession.

So, while it’s good to always try changing won’t power into will power as the Peter William quote for today says; that does not automatically change can’t into can. The Little Engine That Could in the children’s story made it to the top of the hill pulling his train by concentrating on the mantra “I think I can, I think I can”. Perhaps a better mantra might be “I think; therefore, I can”. Thinking before letting determination turn to stubbornness or all the way to obsession can save you a lot of time and effort woman catching starstriving for the wrong things in life.

Applying rationality to your life will allow you to sort out the things that you might achieve with determination from those that even stubbornness won’t allow you to accomplish. Wouldn’t you rather be happy celebrating life’s little victories rather than obsessing over life’s frustrations? Be determined to have a great day!