By Sunny Simon

Over lunch my friend Ellen related a story about spending three hours on the phone with the airlines trying to sort out a mishap involving an international ticket. Most of us might have given up after thirty minutes. Not Ellen. She was beyond persistent, she was tenacious.

Tenacity is a characteristic successful people possess that propels them to the top. According to Webster, “a person who never gives up and never stops trying,” is tenacious. During Ellen’s three hour marathon situation, when an agent could not resolve the issue she asked it be escalated. After waiting 30 minutes for a supervisor to come to the line the agent claimed her manager was unavailable. Realizing she was at an impasse with this particular employee, Ellen hung up and tried the 800 number again. Faced with a new agent and new excuse, she continued to press on and eventually connected with a wise experienced airline supervisor who worked to create a solution. Lesson learned here: When a tenacious person teams with a creative thinker, all things are possible.

Effort alone does not always equal success, strategy counts, as does grit. Author Margaret Halsey is quoted as proclaiming, “Bulldogs have been known to fall on their swords when confronted by my superior tenacity.” Halsey obviously honed her tenacity muscle and accomplished her goals by never backing down in the face of a formidable opponent.


How tenacious are you? Think about the last time you failed at something. Was another party involved? Did you accept no for an answer? Perhaps you let the person off the hook too soon. When negotiating, a passive stance signals if pushed, you will back down. Although Ellen heard the “no” word multiple times there was no giving in. She viewed it as a speed bump, not the end of the road. Maintaining a firm but courteous demeanor Ellen pressed on and on and on.

Another hint, authority depends on your perception. Each airline representative believed she was fully authorized to turn down Ellen’s request. My friend could have stopped after the initial call, but did not give the agent power over her situation. Escalation is always an option. She continually requested a higher authority.

When you need a raise in pay, an opportunity to bid on a project or to purchase your dream car at a price you can afford, practice tenacity. Dig your heels in, be patient and don’t take no for an answer.

Sunny Simon is the owner of Raise the Bar High Life and Career Coaching and the author of the blog