This poster – which hangs in the bathroom at my office – is chock full of platitudes, masquerading as as motivational sayings. After looking at each of them (two or three times a day) for the past couple of months, I feel it is time to call BULLS**T on at least one of them.
The idea of never giving up sounds so positive, doesn’t it?
We get it hammered into us from a very early age:
Quitters never win and winners never quit.
It’s all part of some Puritan ethical standard that praises those who suffer, who eschew the easy route, and “get going” when the going gets tough. Gut it out. Don’t stop. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can . . . .
I just did a quick Internet search for “perseverance+poster” and found 1,490,000 entries; many of them images of people hanging from rocky cliffs by the tips of their fingers. Now, I’ll grant that those who find themselves dangling from their fingernails on the side of El Capitan should probably not quit, but that’s about as far as the admonition should go.
Truth is, you will NEVER win if you don’t learn to quit.
The key to winning is knowing when (and what) to quit. Real success comes when you identify the stuff you’re good at, your natural genius – your strengths – and put the majority of your effort behind whatever activities you have that will bring the greatest return on effort. No one who has ever achieved greatness in anything has ever done so by trying to master everything that comes their way.
There’s a reason we attach negative connotation to the word dilettante. We actually lose respect for those who “never give up” and pursue everything, without hope of achievement. Jack of All Trades is not often found on a successful person’s resume.
The juxtaposition of motivational sayings on this poster makes me chuckle. Right above the words NEVER GIVE UP is a phrase I wholeheartedly support, that is: Do What You Love. Seems to me that one cancels out the other. There’s no way you can do what you love, if you aren’t allowed to quit do the stuff you don’t.
- Make a list of activities that would be more productive if you only had more time (resources).
- Make a list of activities that are wasting your time (resources).
- Compare the two lists and QUIT something.