Tenacity is having the strength of mind to stick to one's purpose. This is closely linked with discipline, although discipline as a virtue is more closely linked with the responsibilities you have to those around you. Tenacity, on the other hand, is the quality that drives you to follow through on your own aims and be slow or unwilling to give up on them.

It does take discipline to be tenacious, so it may benefit you to work on both these traits hand-in-hand—especially if you need help building the organizational skills that are needed to succeed on the projects you will tenaciously finish. Having tenacity will help you have the optimism and determination needed to follow through on difficult tasks,even at times when it isn't your responsibility to do so (and don't necessarily benefit from external pressure to push you foward).

The first aspect of being tenacious is being optimistic about what you can accomplish and to accept the fact that failure is a necessary part of life. This kind of change of thinking requires conscious transformation of your own thoughts and feelings through self-censorship and tweaking your world view. The second part is to keep on chugging on (using courage and discipline) and not losing your interest as you skip from goal to new goal.

The third aspect is to try out new ideas as you learn from each failure. Computer programs are often written in a series of loops, that is, the computer keeps on doing the same thing over and over again until their purpose is satisfied (for instance, a payroll loop might stop after every employees check has been printed). We are not computers, however, and you have to take advantage of that by using your more logical, human thinking. If you try something one way, it may well benefit you try a different technique rather than repeating the same thing over and over again.


  • Pick Yourself Up Each and Every Time: If you go off the diet, you go back on the diet—in fact, you were never really off the diet. If you fail to do something the right way, you keep on changing your tactics until they are the right way. If someone thinks you are a hopeless failure, don't believe them—besides, a hopeful failure is more likely to find success. Now, you might need to change some goals if they are unrealistic, but making better goals is a part of picking yourself up.
  • Keep Up You Interest: Just like in discipline. Some people change hobbies like they change clothes. You want to pick up new skills and activities, this is a good thing, but before you move on to knitting from Karate, for instance, make sure you become pretty skilled and knowledgeable from that martial art before you quit. As with discipline, it helps to keep on reading and learning about the topic, to talk about it with friends (and make new friends that share the hobby), and make smaller goals along the way if you're mastering a new skill.
  • Really Bump Up the Record-Keeping: You may want to make concrete goals as well as listing your successes and failures in virtue, and really push yourself to meet them. If you need more tenacity to begin with, you really need to work on developing the habit of pushing yourself and getting your best.
  • Become Stubborn: Don't listen to people who tease you or think you're wasting your time. You may very well be wasting your time so you should be open to self-reflection, but never base your goals and dreams on what others think is good for you. Try to prove them wrong—people trying to lose weight, for instance, receive more doubt than almost anyone, it seems.

Your Record

Every time you quit because you lost interest, got frustrating, or were intimidated by someone else, then mark yourself at "fault". Whenever you fail to make a personal goal, whether for the benefit or your life or for your enjoyment, then mark yourself at fault. Make some goals based on the activities up above, and perhaps some personal goals as well. If you fail to follow through or perform the activities, then mark yourself at fault.


The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity.

Mahatma Gandhi, Indian Philosopher renown for this development of non-violent protest

Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.

Thomas Henry Huxley, English Biologist

I know of no such unquestionable badge and ensign of a sovereign mind as that of tenacity of purpose.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Golden Mean

Indifference, Irresolution, Slackness
Rigidity, Stubbornness

Recommended Reading

Following Through: A Revolutionary New Model For Finishing Whatever You Start — by Pete Greider, Steve Levinson

A Revolutionary New Model For Finishing Whatever You Start: This book is based on the premise that humans don't naturally come into the world with the state-of-mind needed to follow through—maybe even the opposite. This program was designed to change the way you face your life-improvement goals.

Embracing the Edge: Stories of Tenacity and Personal Power — by Neil Peterson

Stories of Tenacity and Personal Power: The author, Neil Peterson, overcame both physical and learning disabilities to become a successful business owner, executive, and public servant. This collection contains his inspirational stories.

General Rules

Practice virtues daily so that they become ‘habits of the heart’.

Don‘t strive for perfection.

Never give up! Remember: even the greats have off days.

Rely on your intuition.

Avoid extremes. Strive to achieve the golden mean between excess and deficiency of a virtue.

Have fun and enjoy the program with humor and optimism.

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity. Louis Pasteur