Dr Rajan Philips
Are you stubborn or
motivational article was published in Oman Observer ,
one of the leading Newspapers in Oman. The article is
reproduced with the permission of the author )
Dr Rajan Philips -No one likes to be considered stubborn or obstinate. On the other hand, you
would be delighted to think you are determined. But the issue is not as simple
Even as you insist ‘stubbornly’ that you are determined others would declare
vehemently that you are stubborn as a mule! It all depends on the point of view.
I am not suggesting that others are necessarily right. They too could be biased.
Only the unbiased and objective opinion of a true friend or confidant can
provide the right picture to help decide whether what you exhibit is
stubbornness or the positive trait of perseverance. However, if someone reliable
points out that we are being obstinate, we should have the courage to change our
If we look at the issue in a dispassionate manner, we can perceive that we are
determined when we persevere to complete a challenging task.
When we are stubborn we consider everyone else wrong and what we say or do alone
is right. We refuse to change even when your inner conscience tells us the other
point of view is more logical. Why? We don’t want to ‘climb down’ and lose face.
A determined person may reconsider his approach if some one proves that he is
unreasonable — but a stubborn person will not.
Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest inventors of all time, is the epitome of
perseverance in the face of setbacks and failures. It is recorded that in the
process of inventing the light bulb, Edison experimented with thousands of
different filaments before settling for a carbon filament that would last for
His critics may have seen his endless series of effort as obstinate and foolish
waste of time and but in retrospect his focus on a lofty goal and unceasing
endeavour to succeed makes it a great example of perseverance.
Of course, stubbornness can look similar to persistence. As the motivational
writer Russell Bishop puts it: There is a primary difference. Persistence is
characterised by "will power." Stubbornness is characterised by "won't power."
Determined people experience an uplifting and energising feeling. Those who are
propelled by the "won't power" may also be full of energy and passion, but
rarely do they enjoy an uplifting or positive experience. Instead only an inner
Ask parents and they will tell you in unison that their children can be quite
‘stubborn’. An insistently crying baby gets fed promptly. They carry on this
strategy even into their youth. They persist till their demands are met. Parents
generally yield after some initial resistance. However, from the point of view
of the child or the teenager, he is only making reasonable demands and it is
after all the duty of parents to fulfil them.
Similar conundrums occur on a regular basis at the workplace between the boss
and the employees and in various social interactions. In the absence of an
unbiased evaluation by others and an honest introspection by the individual it
is very difficult to categorise any action or stance as a case of stubbornness
But once we are convinced that we are being stubborn we should have the courage
and determination to change our stance. That would usher in greater sense of
harmony among colleagues, friends and family members and give us inner peace.
A few quotes:
l Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance. —
Anthony J Tangelo
l The stubbornness I had as a child has been transmitted into perseverance. I
can let go but I don't give up. — Phylicia Rashad
- Oman Observer