By: Joseph Romana as originally posted at Philippine Online Chronicles
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” – Vince Lombardi
“Age wrinkles the body, quitting wrinkles the soul.” – General Douglas MacArthur
“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong
These and many other similar-minded quotes have brainwashed our generation, and probably the next ones, into a mentality of unnecessary stubbornness. It’s like, stubbornness = wisdom.
I beg to disagree. So does Seth Godin who wrote: “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
QUITTERS WIN TOO
“One day, I promised God that if He would give me my voice back, I would never smoke again. I got 3 octaves back after quitting.” – Mariah Carey
This is one example of why quitters also win and stubborn people can also lose. True winners are neither exclusive quitters nor exclusive non-quitters. Winners make wise decisions, whether quitting or persisting. They know when to quit and when not to quit.
WHEN NOT TO QUIT
In the quintessential book on the art of quitting successfully called The Dip, Seth Godin identifies the conditions where quitting is beneficial for winning. He calls these situations, well, dips.
Dips are that parts of our journeys that is a long slog between starting and mastery. It can actually be a shortcut according to Godin because it can get us where we want to go at a faster clip than any other path. What do we mean by this? Let’s look at an example.
Personal finance management may be defined as ensuring all our current and future needs are met. A big chunk of this includes saving money for investing. Now, many people are excited when they first save money or take on an insurance policy. It’s exciting because it’s probably their first major financial decision and it makes them feel like they’re already independent from their parents and they can strike it out on their own. Ah, yes. The initial euphoria.
But then after a year or two into the insurance policy payments, they start spending more for gimmicks, travel and gadgets. Factor inflation into the mix and you have a situation where the monthly premium payments start to become burdens or hindrances to “good times”. The euphoria has obviously faded and before you know it, what was once considered a joy has become a drudgery. It is at this stage many young people quit. This is the dip.
The dip is that temporary plateau that results in a breakthrough afterwards. After the drudgery, the policy has accumulated so much that the dividends alone start paying for the rest of the premiums due. Because the young person persisted, he achieved a breakthrough. In this case, not quitting was the wise thing to do for success.
WHEN TO QUIT
Quitting is the required course of action when we are in a situation that is obviously going nowhere and is a waste of time, especially if there are potentially more productive or rewarding alternatives. Staying and persisting in a hopeless situation is not wisdom. Take for example, health.
I know someone who was, to say it in a more politically correct term, very obese. He ate everything he wanted, as much as he wanted and when he wanted. His exercise routine consisted purely of alternating biceps curls where he puts food on his mouth with the right hand and drinks from a glass using the left. He was diagnosed with a serious health condition that required him to lose serious pounds.
Prior to this, he tried to lose weight but failed. He couldn’t quit his lifestyle. He persisted. But after hearing that it posed a threat to his life and knowing it meant leaving his family soon, he got his act together and lost weight. He quit early enough to win back his health.
Or how about a friend of mine who quit her job as a high-ranking executive even without a replacement job. Why? Because she knew that staying on the job was a dead end. It was hopeless and no amount of persisting and hard work will make things better. So she quit despite having no backup plan. And because she quit, she was free to take on a better job offer that came along shortly thereafter. My friend knew that persisting in her situation was futile and a losing strategy. She won and got a much better paying job because she knew when to quit.
I’m not saying we should always quit to win. I’m just saying we have to be very careful stereotyping people who quit as losers and stubborn people as winners. It might rub off on us and cause us to stay around longer than we should in situations that are obviously not working out well and miss out on jumping on opportunities for success for fear of being labeled as “losers”. Quitting in dead end situations is wise and staying and persisting in “dips” or temporarily challenging situations that have potential for great success is wise too. The key really is to know which is a dead end and which is a dip.
Photo: “I HOPE THIS DOESN’T MEAN THERE ARE NO MIRACLES LEFT…” by JOPHIELsmiles, c/o Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.