Sooner or later, things go wrong if you force them to happen. And yet, success comes to people who persist, pushing through the point when others would've given up.

I'm a passible handyman. If you've ever tried to fix things, you know that sometimes it's a puzzle how to remove a stubborn cover. Or an old screw just won't turn.

I've forced them. Broken that cover, and rounded off that screw so that they couldn't be removed.

Other times, after a lot of frustration trying to solve a problem, I've had the self awareness to take a break. Just taking a breath and having a cup of tea can be enough to return to the problem with a fresh take and strength to solve it, properly. Or to perhaps arrive at the conclusion that it's simply unsolvable, and I need to buy a new one.

I'm a slow runner. One evening, a few kilometres into a run, pain started in my lower leg. I was limping. The thought of walking back didn't appeal, so I decided to run as fast as I could before the pain started getting worse. The plan was to push it just to the point that pain started coming and no more.

A few days later, I was running normally again. Had I forced it, and tried to run too fast, my recovery would've taken much longer.

My partner suffers from post-concussion syndrome. It's a really terrible condition that affects her quality of life. Concussion itself isn't fully understood by medical professionals. However, concussion recovery has been extensively studied.

One interesting study involves American football players who received a concussion during a match. Researchers created three groups. The first group was told to fully rest, and do no physical exercise for an extended period of time. The second group was allowed to do physical exercise up to the point that they started experiencing the mildest of concussion symptoms. Finally, the third group was directed to exercise and train as much as they liked. Being athletes, the third group pushed themselves hard, very hard.

The group that recovered quickest and most fully was the second group. Researchers found that it was important not to stop all physical activity, while not forcing through the painful concussion symptoms.

This is the trick in business. Pitching 30 investors and getting a no 30 times, trying 10 different tactics to move that metric, spending 2 years developing a product with minimal validation, may all be indications that you're trying to force it. Or that you simply need to persist.

Thinking back to trying to turn that stubborn screw, if you force it, you will round the head and never get the screw out. Along the way, though, there should be feedback that you're on the right or wrong track. The screw budging just a little. The bracket loosening a bit. You're on the right track. The screwdriver head not getting purchase. Flakes of metal coming off the screw. Your frustration rising. You're on the wrong track, warning!

When trying to do hard things in business, I detach myself from the situation, take a breath, and assess it in as cool-headed way as I can: am I forcing this or do I need to persist? Never force it. Always persist.

Don't force it