People often tell me that I am stubborn, and recently I started to say that about myself. But, when I think back I don’t think that I was always known as being stubborn. I think it is a characteristic or a trait that has only recently come out. I don’t think I like the adjective. To me, stubborn means that someone is rooted in their incorrect way of thinking. They are not open to hearing other peoples perspectives. An interesting thought that I had this morning, do people consider Martin Luther King stubborn for fighting for something that he believed in so much that he was willing to die for it? Did people think that Mark Zuckerberg was stubborn when he was forcing Facebook to become a mobile platform? Was Steve Jobs a stubborn leader? I guess my point is that I don’t know if these people would be considered stubborn or not. But, I do think that to most people today saying that someone is stubborn is more of an insult than a compliment. People call others stubborn because that person lacks the ability to grow, learn, and inspire.

Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, and Mark Zuckerberg were not stubborn they were visionary. At least that’s what we would say they are now, because time has shown that they were onto something that no one else (or very few others) saw. But, how many people when they were in the trenches grinding it out everyday considered them to be stubborn? Is it a natural thing for people to think that someone is stubborn until time let’s things play out, and the people that were right make the shift as the visionaries and the leaders, and the ones that were wrong really do get labeled as stubborn?

I often wonder, how approachable were/are these great leaders of our time? I don’t know the answer to this question, but this entire idea is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. How do I lead a group of people, be open to their ideas, but also trudge on, and head in the direction that I feel so passionate about. How do I know when I am being stubborn, and I need to change my way of thinking? How do I know when I need to stay the course, and block out other’s thoughts and ideas?

All of these thoughts are coming from internal struggles in our company, right now. I have some strong opinions that are based on past experience, and other people have strong opinions that are based on past experience. Who is right? How do you decide whose idea to go with? How do you make a decision on the idea the company will go with and still keep everyone unified?

This frustration, pain, and stress that I feel from situations like this invigorates me. I live for moments like this. I know that I will come out a better person, a stronger leader, and a more caring friend. These times are the like the first week of tryouts in high school where the coach tries to run all the wannabes off the court. These moments in the first years of a startup are the times when the cream is separated from the crop.

These moments might just be where the visionaries are separated from the stubborn.