GMC News


Definition of the word of the week (TENACITY): Persistent determination

We live in a world of constant distraction. The telephone rings. There’s a knock at the door. Junior wants to know if anyone has seen his book bag. Susie wants permission to go to a movie. Television news has turned into entertainment with a new fact or thought introduced every fifteen seconds or so. Music on the radio is loud and the words so fast one hardly understands them. We are bombarded with so many stimuli it becomes difficult to concentrate or to finish our work.

Instant gratification fits into this mix too. We must have what we want as soon as possible, with little or no thought for true need or the utility and durability of the thing desired. We have lost the patience and ability to think ahead, to set both short and long-term goals, to watch progress step by step and to wait for results.

Tenacity is the characteristic that helps us overcome our environment. The ability to choose a task and stick with it until completion is a valuable talent. It means we refuse to yield to the temptation of distractions and when problems arise or progress seems difficult or near to impossible, we keep going, regardless of obstacles, in order to achieve our goals.

Tenacity not only represents the effort to deal with what goes on around us, but also inside of us. It is the key to overcoming personal weaknesses of laziness, defeatism, frustration, procrastination and lack of resolve. Teachers and employers, among others, use the term “stick-to-itiveness” to describe good students and good workers. They are people who have a task, who take the initiative to execute the task, who, in spite of setbacks or difficulties, work diligently to accomplish the task they have been given. Elbert Hubbard’s story of “The Message to Garcia”, which we emphasize and use as a teaching tool here at GMC, is illustrative of this important characteristic.

We can and should develop tenacity as an important part of our personal make-up. Along with other traits of leadership, we can learn to be diligent and tenacious. If you feel your life is spinning out of control, that there’s too much to do and too little time in which to do it, I suggest starting with small but significant steps. Two excellent suggestions are 1) turn off the television, turn off the radio, find a quiet, well lit corner and read a book, purposefully a classic which will take time and critical thinking to understand, and 2) grow a garden this spring and summer, taking interest in watching and measuring your seeds growth, enjoying a re-acquaintance with nature as you weed and water your plants, and taking great pride and pleasure in consuming the fruits of your labor. Both your table and your tenacity will improve.

The following quotations are intended to assist in explaining and exemplifying the word of the week:

A goal without a plan and the tenacity to achieve it is just a wish. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Keep your eyes on the prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity. Louis Pasteur

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work. Oprah Winfrey

Patience and tenacity are worth more than twice their weight in cleverness. Thomas H. Huxley

Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery, and the best form of tenacity is expressed in the proverb that the next mile is the only one a person has to make. Eric Sevareid

Dr Alling Jones, GMC Prep School Faculty prepared this study guide as part of the institution’s character education program. Comments and suggestions from readers are welcome at 478-445-2710 or by email at