Anyone ever heard that quote before? If so, do you know who said it? Fist bump if you know the answer without cheating. My guess is that there’s a good chance your answer is no. In our perfectionist society (guilty), the more popular quote is something along the lines of “winners never quit and quitters never win.” Now, my guess is most of you have heard that one. As I’ve “matured”, I’ve often wondered about this quote. At what point are you just throwing good after bad, wasting emotional and intellectual resources and in all actuality, really losing? For much of my life, I believed that once you started something you just put your head down and finished it- no matter what. Looking back, what that has gotten me is some less than ideal finished products- just for the sake of reaching a goal. In the end, I could check off the proverbial box, but didn’t really feel proud of what I had accomplished. It’s taken me 40+ years to realize that sometimes quitting is not failing at all. Sometimes, quitting is the smartest thing you can do.
So, of course I decided to research this a bit (it’s what I do). I found that Travis Bradberry has done a good deal of work on this. He says it is about approach goals versus avoidance goals. Those who fall into the approach camp are motivated by challenges but don’t waste their time trying to solve problems that simply don’t have a feasible solution. They know when to quit. People motivated by avoidance goals worry more about failing. They will keep plugging away at things even after logic suggests a better way or scrapping it altogether. Not real productive and takes longer to eventually get to your goal, more money, more stress, etc.
Travis suggests there are a few things we should all quit doing:
- Quit doubting yourself. Know one reason why there are more men than women in senior management at major companies? Because women wait until they meet 100% of the pre-requisites and men give it a try at around the 60% mark. Be confident, women… you’ll be amazed at what can happen.
- Quit putting things off. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
- Quit thinking you have no choice. In other words, stop being a victim. There is always a choice. It may be a choice between 2 sucky things, but it is still a choice. Make the best choice you can. Stop giving your power away.
- Quit trying to make 2+2 = 5. Seriously- when will this ever happen? Um, never. In layman’s terms, if you keep doing the same things, you will keep getting the same results. Hoping for a different result is as likely as getting sprinkled by unicorn dust.
- Quit thinking everything is going to work out on its own. OK- I am soooo guilty of this still that it’s not even funny. I tend to take the “it will work out how it’s supposed to” approach to more than I should. This is one area that I am really working on for myself. As my coach has said and continues to say (although less often now), “Don’t walk over the trash.” You need to deal with stuff. You need to be proactive and advocate for yourself. Then and only then can you take the “things will work out how they should approach.” I’m getting there.
- Quit saying yes. Crap- well if we’re truth-telling, I’m guilty here also. Research has shown that the more difficulty you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout and depression. Well, duh, now that I’m writing it. Putting it into practice though is not so duh-worthy. I’m putting this into the category of you can only do so much- pick what is important to you and say yes to that. Give someone else a chance for the other things.
To bring it all together, if you really want to succeed at the things you should be doing, think first about the things you should quit doing. By getting your “quit” chops exercised here, you will be more apt to exercise them in other areas of your life.
PS – if you are wondering who owns the quote “Quitting is leading too”… it is none other than Nelson Mandela.
Fist bump to YOU!