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Mastering the Art of Being Stubborn

A black and white photo of a woman riding a horse.

This article was written by Fe Husaint from The Drum and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to


Being stubborn has always been viewed as a negative trait – doesn't it conjure up images of a young child throwing a tantrum, kicking and screaming on the floor?

Even in our careers, most often stubbornness scores no points. It screams 'uncooperative' and 'difficult.'

Yet I have a special appreciation for stubbornness.

I owe a lot of my success to this trait because, throughout my career, it was one quality that helped me keep a razor-sharp focus on my goals. Stubbornness is that solid foundation I leaned on whenever I had to stand my ground during difficult and unpopular decisions. It persuaded me to stay the course when others were ready to give up.

That's why I feel it's time to change the conversation around being stubborn and view it positively.

When you look closely, stubborn people are the ones who keep steady when times are uncertain. At work, they are your colleagues who staunchly defend your team's position when the rest of the group doesn't believe in it. Stubborn people also rarely lose their way because they do not stray from their core values and principles.

Instead of being difficult and rigid, why don't we see stubborn people as determined and headstrong? I am proud to be called stubborn because it means I am tenacious and persistent. But remember that there's a fine line between being stubborn and ignorant.

So, you need to wield this strength wisely. If, like me, you've been called stubborn, keep these tips in mind.

Don't let your passion fade

Working in the creative industry can sometimes be tough for those who have this trait. After all, we're working within tight deadlines, following someone else's brief. Due to this, many creatives, although inherently stubborn, shut down.

I want to remind you to not lose heart. Remind yourself of that passion that keeps your creativity alight.

I have also learned that standing your ground should not be feared. Your strong beliefs and convictions are not things that manifest out of nowhere. There are projects where I have spent days driving my position because I pour passion into what I believe in.

Stubborn people see things others don't see. We need to convince others and inspire them to see things our way.

Stick to your conviction and continue to be decisive

If there ever was a poster child for grit and persistence, it's a stubborn person. We never shy away from hard work and difficulties. We are unfazed by hurdles and keep our sights firmly planted on our goals.

Peer pressure also has no effect on a stubborn person – we stick to our beliefs no matter how people try to convince us otherwise. We listen to reasonable arguments but first align with our values. Yes, we stubborn folk tend to be very grounded in our values.

You will never find a stubborn person following a crowd because it's the popular thing to do. That's why we make good leaders. In most cases, we think our position through in great detail to confidently stand our ground.

Know when to retreat and re-enter

Many stubborn people can achieve anything they set their minds on. Sometimes it's tough for others to see your vision before it bears fruit. A great example for this is Steve Jobs. No figure in modern business refused to listen to expert advice more consistently than he did. He believed in his vision and stuck to it.

However, we also need to know when to observe our surroundings, retreat, recalibrate and re-enter. Yes, you need to keep pushing for what you want, but you need to know that if whatever you push for doesn't manifest, it doesn't mean that you have failed. It just means that you need to be flexible and open-minded.

Here's what you do when your plans don't pan out how you wanted: 

  1. Gracefully retreat (but do not give up)  
  2. Go back to the drawing board and carefully plan your next steps 
  3. Develop an even better plan to achieve that idea you genuinely believe in 
  4. Rally people who believe in your point of view 
  5. Return with a bang  

Sometimes things may not go your way, so be flexible

The inconvenient truth is some battles simply can't be won. For these, you need to find a middle ground to achieve the common objective. As I said, conviction is one of our strong points, but you also need to be flexible, especially in team settings. You need to be able to see the end goal clearly and work toward achieving the end goal in a way that benefits everyone.

To close, my advice to leaders dealing with headstrong, 'stubborn' team members – I would rather have 'wild horses' in my team than have people who follow orders with no passion or soul.

You can 'tame' these wild horses by clearly communicating common goals you're trying to achieve as a team, while trusting and guiding them to deliver results.

Fe Husaint is the creative and global brand head at Green Park Content. 


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