When to be Stubborn

Some of the most interesting attributes are those that are both good and bad. A simple prescription of elimination of the attribute or building it isn’t sufficient. Instead we must learn to manage it, blunt the negatives and channel the positives.

Stubbornness is one such attribute, and it’s one that I’m perhaps too intimately familiar with. Observing something like stubbornness within oneself is to see it through muddy water, though. Only in others is it really clearly seen, and that’s often when it’s best to apply the lessons learned to oneself.

When I’m being stubborn, it’s so easy to believe that I’m right and that external resistance is only due to other’s stubbornness. Stubbornness is glorious when you’re right; it’s the process of believing in yourself, not being swayed by those with a less perfect view than your own, and finally triumphing.

And in that way, stubbornness is a good. Many great ideas, inventions, and breakthroughs have come by way of stubbornness. Some of my biggest accomplishments are really the children of stubbornness.

A couple days ago a friend asked a group of his peers for advice. There were nine of us, all coming from different points of view and levels of experience. In a rare moment of unity, all agreed on an optimal solution. Yet my friend continued to resist.

I’ve been there, too, and I know how hard it is to let go of stubbornness and admit that someone else is right, especially when it’s about something personal. Stubbornness is investment in an idea, and it’s always hard to let go of investments.

That moment made me realize something, though. Many of us do a pretty good job of surrounding ourselves with amazing people. When I looked across that table at my friends, I saw some of the smartest and best thinkers I’ve ever come across. What’s the point of having such smart friends if you won’t surrender to their advice when it’s unanimous?

I think there’s a place for stubbornness. When there’s no consensus, maybe it’s better to err on the side of your own belief. Maybe you really have some unique perspective that makes you correct. And when you’re against the masses who don’t think much at all, maybe it’s best to be stubborn. But when the people you’ve chosen to surround yourself with, the people you most respect, tell you that you’re wrong, maybe that’s not the time to be stubborn.


Photo is the night sky on the island. Came out a bit grainy and I don’t have lightroom in Linux to smooth it out, but I like it.

Yesterday we docked in Otaru and took a train down to Jigoku-dani in Noboribetsu. It’s my favorite thing in northern Japan. Today we go to Hakodate, where we’ll just hang around the town.

Book sales have been great– thank you! If you bought the book, please leave a review!

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