Stubbornness–Like Cholesterol

Bold conclusions become convictions, and then stubborn mode begins. In their stubborn mode (my radio amateur friend would call it “full transmit”), entrepreneurs disconcert us with their seeming immunity to contrary new data and opposing opinions. A founder’s heroic stubbornness drives the business toward extremes–decisive success, or quick death. They spend their time charging ahead, not wondering whether they are headed in the right direction. This is a simple conservation of resources strategy. It works, but beyond a point (it’s hard to know until it’s too late) it is disastrous. So, like cholesterol, stubbornness comes in “good” and “bad” varieties. If the ship’s captain is heading into unknown seas, as every entrepreneur does, you at least want to know how big an iceberg the ship will be hitting.  Here are some signs to watch for: Good stubborn means the captain will ignore a lot in order to stay on course. Bad stubborn means staying “on course” all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

  • Good Stubborn–Refuses to fret about dangers that cannot be helped. Preaches a few simple propositions over and over again to employees, customers, backers. Pictures the world as it will be, not as it is. Ignores peripheral complications. Recognizes factors that could cause failure, attacks them. Expects to win. In a hidden background process, anticipates the next episode of open-mindedness.
  • Bad Stubborn–Will not talk to customers. Has not had a major “open-minded” episode since two leap years ago. Ignores factors that could cause failure, instead of attacking them. Plans on hanging on no matter what, no matter how long it takes. Would rather hang on by fingernails than change course and succeed.

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