When Perseverance Becomes A Problem

Too much grit can get you in sh*t!

When Perseverance Becomes A Problem


“…we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of Britain during WWII

The Brits unequivocally showed grit in 1940 as World War Two raged. Churchill famously swore to defend Britain from enemy hoards by fighting unrelentingly.

Perseverance means sticking with something in spite of crushing obstacles. Your battle to find work, or improve your career, likely won’t expose you to artillery blitzes or rusty bayonets. It will, however, regularly test your resolve.

Staying the course can yield results while everyone else falters. But unquestioned stubbornness could be like shooting yourself in the foot.



The upsides of persistence are clear cut. Many tasks and projects are more marathons than sprints. Giving up partway’s a formula for failure. People who keep at it tend to display:

·      Action orientation

·      Resourcefulness

·      Optimism that energizes their efforts and can be contagious


In The Job Search

Perseverance powers successful work hunts. Translation? Keep trying despite disappointments. Focus on more effective techniques. Build a critical mass of contacts to get referred for opportunities eventually. Follow up on leads even when exhausted. Plan for an extended search.


At Work

Be the one folks rely on to get the job done. When brick walls stop you cold, look for ways to climb over, punch through or skirt around. The system got you down? Flip your work bitching into positive changes.  

It’s hard never to take no for an answer. So hone your powers of persuasion. Blow some minds by resolving persistent problems most have given up on, even if you have to suck up strategically.



Persistence can devolve to pig-headed. All that drive and barrier bashing’s for naught if it ends up as uncritical stubbornness. Watch for signs of

·      Failure to learn from failures

·      Rejecting allies angrily if they happen to disagree with you

·      Obsessing over finishing tough assignments long after new stuff takes precedence


In The Job Search

Clues your work hunt’s gone from determined to delusional? Staying with the same approach in spite of no (or garbage) interviews. Holding out for the perfect job as your bank account empties. Refusing to consider interim employment like temping, gigs and contract work. Not exploring different sector or relocation options.


At Work

Stubbornness on the job spins wheels and squanders scarce resources – with puny results. Soon you’re missing other deadlines and pissing off team members. Holding up newer projects. Coming off as rigid.  



Not sure whether to hold them or fold ‘em? Do the calculus. Be sure the perseverance payoff’s higher than the cost of extra effort, risk of stranding other assignments and the possibility of failing.

The strategic retreat may well beat stupid stubbornness.