Quitters are losers

I was always afraid to quit. For me, quitting was never an option. Quitting made me feel like I disappointed myself and the other people around me who were expecting me to succeed. But I’m sure it’s not just me who felt that way. I’m sure you’ve had trouble quitting, too.

The good news is, it’s not our fault. Quitting has never been easy for us in our society. Since childhood, we were taught to never give up. We were always given the examples of people who never gave up on their dreams, reaping countless blessings as their reward for persevering. The adage “try and try until you die” shows our mindset as a society–that quitting is for losers.

It’s no surprise that quitting makes us feel guilty.

What is Quitting?

Quitting is definitely not admitting defeat and does not lead to becoming a loser. It honestly didn’t take much for me to see what quitting was really about. All I needed was an open mind and a few books.

What did I learn? Quitting is a strategy for success. Contrary to what we’ve been taught, quitting is an important part of success. And those who have succeeded my not know it, but they have unconsciously quit at some point in their lives.

Quitting for success

Do you remember, that as kids, we wanted to be so many things? Doctor, lawyer, astronaut, magician, like-daddy and like-mommy? How did we end up doing what we are doing today, from all those things we wanted to be? We had to quit. At some point in our lives, we realized that we did not really like or have the knack for those things.

Some of us learned no matter how many basketball camps we attend and shots we make, we could never be professional players. I learned in Grade 5 that I wasn’t the type to be a lawyer. I also quit on becoming an Accounting major, even though I knew I liked it and my professors encouraged me to do it. And I’m glad I quit. If I persevered, I would never have ended up doing what I’m doing now. And right now, this is what I like doing, and I know I’m built for it.

When should we quit?

I’m not saying we should quit everything. Quitting everything won’t lead us anywhere. Quitting for success is something else. Seth Godin, in one of my favorite books, The Dip, calls this Strategic Quitting. Simply put, strategic quitting requires one to know if the situation will lead him/her to success or if it is a dead end. If your current challenge will make you the leader in your field, persevere. If not, quit it.

What else we get from Quitting

As I’ve learned to quit, I learned that there are benefits aside from apparent success. What else have I learned?

* Focus on strengths
* Flexibility
* Letting go isn’t as hard as it looks
* Change of mindset

Focus on Strengths
If we play to our strengths, success is inevitable. Success becomes inevitable because of two driving factors: nature and passion. Our nature makes success bound to happen. We were built to do it, so it is easy for us to succeed at it. But even more powerful is our passion. We are built for it, so we really like it, thus we will be very driven to succeed at it.

Furthermore, focusing on our strengths allows us to manage one of the most scarce resources: time. By knowing what we are good at and what we are bad at, we can filter out the things we do. In my case, instead of forcing myself to learn to draw or paint or take photos, I’d rather read more to improve my creativity and improve my writing.

Strategic quitting lessens our tie ups and commitments with things that lead to dead ends, making us more available to pursue golden opportunities.

Opportunity knocks just once. How can we take on a golden opportunity if we are busy trying something else? What if advertising job finally came along, but you were in the middle of leading the launch of another product in an industry you never liked? Quitting allows us to be ready to jump at the opportunities that matter.

Letting go isn’t as hard as it looks
Letting go seems to be one of the hardest things to do. Whenever we commit to something, we put ourselves into it. Because we put ourselves into it, it becomes harder for us to stop doing it, quit, and let go. No one would just give up on something they just committed to. How can we easily just forget, let go and move on? But it’s really not that hard.

While I was new at my job, I put myself into an idea I thought would be good for the company. It got rejected. If I didn’t know how to quit, I would have kept ranting about how much better we would have been if the idea pushed through. But I didn’t. Work went on, I let go and moved on to the next idea. But it wasn’t a happy story all the time. A lot of those next ideas didn’t push through.

That taught me to let go and move on. In the end, I became more resistant to frustration and became more focused on moving forward.

Change of mindset
For me though, the most important benefit that quitting gave me is this paradigm shift, this change of mindset.

Simply put, quitting is tantamount to failure. But I’ve learned that quitting is a positive strategy for success. So what does failure become? Failure becomes something necessary to succeed. Now, failure isn’t something I’m afraid of. I’m less afraid to fail, because I know I can learn from it. I’m less afraid to fail, so I’m more willing to take risks.

Now, I don’t think quitting is for losers. In fact, quitting is one of the best things I’ve learned to do. Quitting is liberating.