Which will you be, stubbornly persistent or persistently stubborn?

Some people see persistence as good and stubborn as a mere blink away from stupid. (John Leech Sketch Archives 1841-1864)

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Except that sometimes you will appear to be stubbornly persistent and at others persistently stubborn.

Which is which?

Some people see persistence as good and stubborn as a mere blink away from stupid. Take me, for example. I think I’m persistent. I see myself as carrying on against all odds and in spite of obstacles.

Yet my wife thinks I’m stubborn. She would, I suppose, because stubborn means unreasonably obstinate, unyielding and inflexible.

So I’ve decided to make sense of these two tricky terms, to help me cope with friend and foe alike:

  • Persistence is a behavior. Stubborn is an attitude.
  • Persistence aims at a future outcome. Stubborn clings to a past position.
  • Persistence kicks in when conviction is involved. Stubborn is triggered when the ego is at stake.

Now, which will you be today?

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.