“Never give up” is what we’re told throughout our lives, by our parents and by storybooks, by our teachers and coaches, and by our mentors and colleagues. The philosophy, which is idealistic, is that as long as you keep working hard, eventually you’ll get the result you want. You may have to find a new way around or improve yourself to meet the challenge, but as long as you don’t give up, you’ll find success.
Unfortunately, this isn’t how the real world works. In the vast majority of cases, as long as you keep working hard, you’ll eventually find success–but it may not be the type of hard work you think it is, and the success you find may not be what you originally set out for.
The truth of the matter is, sometimes you have to give up one goal in order to pursue another, and sometimes you have to give up on a weak idea in order to pursue a stronger one. Then again, giving up on an idea too soon could ruin a potentially valuable opportunity.
So at what point do you cut your losses and move on?
There’s no one right answer, but as you’ll see from these, great people of all walks of life have been forced to face the notion of giving up, and it’s never easy:
1. “I have met many entrepreneurs who have the passion and even the work ethic to succeed – but who are so obsessed with an idea that they don’t see its obvious flaws. Think about that. If you can’t even acknowledge your failures, how can you cut the rope and move on?” –Kevin O’Leary.
This quote illustrates the importance of realizing that ideas are rarely perfect. Hard though it may be, it’s vital that you recognize the imperfections in your own work, and if they outweigh its strengths, it may be time to move on.
2. “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” –Winston Churchill.
Giving up is a conscious way of recognizing some level of failure, which makes it hard to do. But as Churchill explains, failure shouldn’t stop you–it’s just one step of the journey. In some cases, the sooner you give up, the sooner you can move on to something better.
3. “All of us make mistakes. The key is to acknowledge them, learn, and move on. The real sin is ignoring mistakes, or worse, seeking to hide them.”
Even when you do feel forced to give up, that doesn’t mean you’ll be walking away with nothing. You’ll have learned greatly from the experience, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with whatever comes next.
4. “You shouldn’t focus on why you can’t do something, which is what most people do. You should focus on why perhaps you can, and be one of the exceptions.” –Steve Case.
Before giving up, try to look at your situation objectively. Don’t be drawn into overly positive or overly negative thinking–look at it from both sides and make a logical determination of whether it’s worth pursuing further.
5. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because all that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are.” –Mark Cuban.
Giving up in one instance doesn’t mean you’re a permanent failure. You’ll probably give up many times on weak ideas or poor executions–eventually, you’ll get it right, and once is all it takes.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.
Leaders Leading Leaders
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BREAK WITH TRADITION IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE PROGRESS.
LEADERS PUSH BOUNDARIES
People are trained to follow rules from the time they are kids:
- Stand in line.
- Do your homework.
- Put your hand up to ask a question.
Most rules are good because they keep us from living in chaos. And most processes are governed by rules. You drop a brick from a second-story window, and you know it’s going to fall to the ground. You forget to place the order for office supplies, and you run out of staples. It’s simple cause and effect.
Managers often rely on rules to make sure the processes they oversee stay on track. In fact, self-management is basically having the discipline to follow through with the rules you set for yourself. But to move beyond management, you have to learn to think outside the box.
Leaders push boundaries. They desire to find a better way. They want to make improvements. They like to see progress. All these things mean making changes, retiring old rules, inventing new procedures. Leaders are constantly asking, “Why do we do it this way?” and saying, “Let’s try this.” Leaders want to take new territory, and that means crossing boundaries.