When To Quit
“Like creating a masterpiece, quitting is an art: you have to decide what to keep within the frame and what to keep out.” — Richie Norton
How do you know when to hold ‘em?
How do you know when to fold ’em?
How do you know when to walk away … or when to run?
Quitting isn’t always obvious.
You might have grown up hearing that winners never quit and quitters never win, but it’s not true. Unfortunately, it’s bad advice when you take it to the extreme.
Winners quit all the time. But they know when to quit, and when to dig in.
In the book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, Scott Adams shares what he learned about knowing when to quit and when to stick with something.
Which Path Will Be Most Fruitful?
How do you know which way to go, and whether you are even on the right path? And if you stick with it, how do you know whether it will yield any fruitful results?
“Childhood obsessions and tolerance for risk are only rough guides to talent at best. As you grow and acquire more talents, your potential paths to success multiply quickly. That makes it extra hard to know which possibility among many would put you in a position of competitive advantage. Should you pursuit a career that uses your knowledge of photography and software, or something that uses your public-speaking skills and your gift for writing? There’s no way to be completely sure which path will be most fruitful.”
Try Lots of Different Things
Experiment. How do you know if you’ll be a good swimmer or even like swimming, if you never go in the water? How do you know if your idea is any good, if you don’t test it with real users?
“The smartest system for discerning your best path to success involves trying lots of different things – sampling, if you will. For entrepreneurial ventures it might mean quickly bailing out if things don’t come together quickly.”
You Need to Know When to Quit
If quitting is not a part of your vocabulary, you’ll set yourself up for failure by taking away your flexibility to invest in better bets, and let the bad ones go.
“That approach might conflict with the advice you’ve heard all of your life – that sticking with something, no matter the obstacles, is important to success. Indeed, most successful people had to chew through a wall at some point. Overcoming obstacles is normally an unavoidable part of the process. But you also need to know when to quit. Persistence is useful, but there’s no point in being an idiot about it.”
Things that Will Work Out Well, Start Out Well
You can’t quit everything you start, or you’ll never get over the humps. But not all humps are created equal. Even the little humps up front show signs of potential.
“My guideline for deciding when to quit is informed by a lifetime of trying dozens of business ideas, most of them failures. I’ve also carefully observed others struggling with the stay-or-quit decision. There have been times I stuck with bad ideas for far too long out of a misguided sense that persistence is a virtue. The pattern I notice was this: Things that will someday work out well start out well. Things that will never work start out bad and stay that way. What you rarely see is a stillborn failure that transmogrifies into a stellar success. Small successes can grow into big ones, but failures rarely grow into successes.”
Are you holding on to success?
Or, is it time to let things go, and would a change of pace do you good?
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Image by Alex Indigo.