Simon Sinek takes some time to explain how leadership works properly:
He’s right. The single most important quality in your life that will turbocharge it and allow you to achieve great things is not actually talent.
It is consistency.
You have to be a stubborn jackass to get what you want out of life. You have to do the same things over and over and over AND OVER AND BLOODY OVER again in order to get really good at them. And as you do those endless repetitions, you grow as a man.
You grow in skills, depth, precision, wisdom, experience, and ability.
And over time you become a leader, a husband, a father, and a good example.
It all comes from being consistent.
It’s not easy. Most of the time it’s really not fun, at all. But it’s worth doing.
Now, Simon Sinek strikes me as a bit of a hyphenated-American liberal who really dislikes our great and magnanimous God-Emperor, Donaldus Triumphus Magnus, but he does offer good advice on the subject of leadership and management.
The thing is, though, that this notion of “stubbornness” as a key to success is not new. It is at least as old as Sun Tzu.
I subscribe to a very different Simon’s newsletters. Simon Black, an entrepreneur who is by all accounts highly successful, runs an organisation called Sovereign Man, and his latest blog post on the subject of Hong Kong’s massive pro-democracy protests is well worth reading.
Stubbornness works just as well for organisations as it does for individuals. Few organisations understand this quite as well as the ChiComs:
People in Hong Kong are militant about their freedom, and they’re refusing to bend the knee over this proposed law.
Yet the government is still pressing ahead despite overwhelming opposition. So much for representative democracy.
Other governments around the world have spoken out about it, including even the United States, which issued a statement expressing “grave concern” about the law.
(I’m sure Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are still in disbelief that Uncle Sam has a problem with the extradition of political dissidents…)
But… China understands its Sun Tzu very well. This is a siege. Foreign governments, media, and people in Hong Kong are all attacking against this proposed legislation.
However, the attackers will eventually exhaust their strength.
All of these foreign governments will go back to minding their own problems. The people in the streets will go home. The media will grow tired of reporting on the story and turn their attention to Donald Trump’s latest Twitter rant.
China just needs to be patient and wait for its enemies to exhaust their strength. And then, one day when everyone has been worn down by life’s distractions, they’ll pass the law.
Time is on their side. Protests and demonstrations only delay the inevitable.
He is correct. Siege warfare of any kind is incredibly exhausting and destructive – to one’s own side. It requires overwhelming force focused on a single area with secure supply lines and no pressing threats to the attacking force. It requires unbreakable willpower and absolute dedication to a cause.
If you are missing any of these things, you end up like the Turks at the Siege of Vienna in 1683: routed, decimated, massacred, and ultimately utterly crushed.
The ancient wisdom of Sun Tzu does not directly translate as “stubbornness”, exactly; it is more like persistence. In other words – outlast your opponents.
You can take the exact same lesson and apply it to fighting one-on-one.
One of my martial arts instructors told me a couple of years ago about the importance of conditioning and cardiovascular endurance. He’s just a kid compared to me, but he is an absolute badass of a martial artist. He fights in amateur MMA and BJJ competitions by way of a hobby; he was good enough that he was considering turning pro for a while.
He said that he only understood the value of conditioning when he started forcing himself to do exercises to increase his lung capacity and cardio. He said that he was able to engage with fighters that he knew were technically more skilled and capable than he was – but he was more resilient than they were, and he was able to outlast them simply by virtue of having better cardio and better conditioning.
They would wear themselves down by throwing lots of flashy technical strikes at him – and he would simply respond by dodging or absorbing blows against his body, and then look for the moment when his opponents began to flag.
At that point, he would either up his striking volume significantly and overwhelm them with vastly greater output that they could no longer effectively defend against, or simply take them down and grapple.
Anyone who has ever studied grappling to any serious degree will know that I am right when I say that serious grappling and groundwork, whether in the form of wrestling, judo, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu – or “cuddling”, as our beloved and dreaded Supreme Dark Lord (PBUH) would call it – is more exhausting than stand-up striking.
Trying to work through someone’s guard is incredibly tiring. You can do it, with sufficient training and innate skill, but it’s damned hard work against someone who knows what he’s doing.
And someone who knows what he’s doing, knows damned well that the reason why you put someone inside your guard is to wear him down.
Again, persistence wins.
Being stubborn is not always a good character trait. I’ve been told so many times that I’ve lost count, by people that love me very much, that I am as unyielding as a brick wall about way too many things. I got that way partly because of my genetics – people who think I’m stubborn, should try seeing what my dad is like with his daily routines – and partly because of my temperament.
And that stubbornness has cost me a lot in life.
If you are stubborn in the wrong ways, by refusing to accept when you are wrong, or refusing to accommodate someone else’s needs and desires, or refusing to contemplate a different path for yourself, or even refusing to bend certain moral codes when they are no longer applicable, then you are setting yourself up for painful and repeated failure.
If, however, you are patiently stubborn, you can outlast whatever it is that comes to destroy you.