• 08.25.10

Tenacity and Gratitude: Virtues Only Exist When You Exercise Them

In an interview on NPR’s “Here & Now,” actor Henry Winkler revealed two principles that guide his life: tenacity and gratitude. As an actor, Winkler has known his share of ups and downs. Not only should gratitude and tenacity hold actors in good stead, they are principles for anyone in the workforce to remember.

Henry Winkler

Not only should gratitude and tenacity hold actors in good
stead, they are principles for anyone in the workforce to remember. Tenacity is
the grit in the gut that keeps you going, keeps you focused on achieving your
goals. Gratitude is more than giving thanks; it is an attitude of thankfulness
that creates a positive sense. As a combination they complement each other by steeling oneself against adversity with the sense of humility in acknowledging that good fortune brings responsibility.


As virtues, tenacity and gratitude are nice to have; as
behaviors they are a strong combination found in many successful individuals.
Here are some suggestions to for putting each to work.

Tenacity complements motivation, an intrinsic desire to take
action. Those who achieve more in the face of resistance are tenacious. To
apply tenacity to your work life, consider:

  • When obstacles come your way, size them up before
    attacking. Find ways to break big roadblocks into smaller ones that you can
    surmount one by one.
  • Use someone else’s no as an opportunity to assess where
    you are now and what you need to do next.
  • Do not stop believing in your ability to achieve. This
    does not mean you will succeed at every dream–after all not all of us can
    play the violin, run a marathon, or become a CEO. But believe in self will push
    you into endeavors in which you can excel.

Gratitude is really a form of humility, an acknowledgement
that my good fortune was not all my own doing–others helped me to achieve.
Therefore, I should consider giving back. To demonstrate gratitude, consider:

  • Find ways to share what you know with your colleagues. Use
    your experience to help them leverage their skills.
  • Look for opportunities to pitch in to help colleagues
    complete their work in timely and responsible fashion. [This is not the same as covering for incompetent coworker.]
  • Share your expertise in your community, as a volunteer
    teacher, coach or mentor.
  • Exercise humility. Reflect on how you treat others. Find
    room to do better the next time.

True enough, tenacity and especially gratitude can be
reduced to feel good aphorisms, or worse platitudes. The danger in doing so is
that the intention of such virtues becomes nothing more than greeting card
rhetoric, or as the Irish are fond of saying, palaver.

Too bad! Tenacity is a sense of spunk; it fuels a sense of
get up and go. While it is easy to think of it applied to the young, Winkler,
now in his sixties, is living proof that if you like what you do and want to
keep doing it, pursue it.

And gratitude because it is focused on giving never goes out
of style. It rounds out our humanity and confirms that being human carries with
it certain responsibilities, one of them being thankful for what you have
received. That is, be proud of your achievements but consider the due-date on
any obligations you may have accrued along the way.


John Baldoni is an
internationally recognized leadership development consultant, executive coach,
author, and speaker. In 2010 Top Leadership Gurus named John one of the world’s
top 25 leadership experts. John’s new book is
Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up
(Amacom 2009). Readers are welcome to visit John’s Web site,