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L.Srikumar Pai
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Reflections-By Dr Rajan Philips

Are you stubborn or determined?

( This motivational article was published in Oman Observer , one of the leading Newspapers in Oman. The article is reproduced with the permission of the author )


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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 as that.
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 stance.
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 hours.
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 conflict.
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 or determination.
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

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