AND Look Beyond the Label

October 15th, 2017

I was listening to a podcast that suggested stubbornness might be a critical asset in creating change. That idea got me thinking about what we call stubbornness.

In my experience, the label of stubborn is levied by the one who feels unsuccessful in getting someone else to change her mind or behavior to accommodate the one who wants her to change. In times of shifting priorities or changes to the status quo, whether personal, organizational, or societal, the early leaders are challenged to hold strong when others pressure them to return to conventionally specified roles and behaviors.

In such cases, often in the early stages of cultural change, the ones labeled stubborn are the ones refusing to give up on the vision. They are willing to risk rejection and judgment for the vision or principle for which they stand. Because they are not behaving as others expect, they are labeled negatively to pressure them to give up. The test for peaceable warriors such as Gandhi, or leaders of social change such as Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Susan B. Anthony, for example, was to stand strong until a critical mass of followers got used to the new direction, behavior which often earns leaders any of a number of labels.

On the other hand, once change begins to take hold, those who refuse to agree to follow the direction of change are also seen as stubborn. In many cases, when presented with the realization that we need to change our behaviors and choices to survive or thrive, we stubbornly cling to ego and expectations, resisting the path that is actually necessary for our health. Collectively, we do the same thing, ignoring the good of the whole to protect our individual status quo, when faced with social changes that threaten our ego.

We need a clear North Star, something that guides us to choose the best in ourselves AND others. We need to be clear in our hearts whether we are resisting out of fear or courageously standing for something bigger than ourselves. Resisting the flow of life and growth in us is not the same thing as having the courage to choose the flow of life and best for all. AND either one can elicit a label of stubborn from those with a vested interest in your agreeing with them.

It’s time to clarify whether any label levied by another as a form of power, control, or peer pressure to conform is one we want to own because it makes us a better version of ourselves and aligns with our North Star or one that induces fear, thereby giving our power to others to tell us when we are good enough for their approval. The former helps us all to shine. The latter causes us to shrink and create unconscious societies where the power goes to the bully. The choice to live into our highest potential or shrink is always ours. AND we will know which choice to make by looking inside ourselves, beyond the label, and stubbornly holding onto a higher truth.

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