The incredible power of quitting

Meant to be humorous, but is it also somewhat true?

It isn’t just powerful to quit…it is often necessary. Seth Godin captures this idea perfectly in his book The Dip. Like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, counterintuitive ideas sometimes require more explanation than can be offered in a short blog. I encourage you to read both.

Godin talks about our society’s crazy notion that quitting is bad and how it encourages people to pursue a goal despite mounting evidence against eventual success. This is the kind of thinking that led Microsoft to only this week kill off Zune, its answer to the iPod. How much did Microsoft pour into Zune before arriving at this decision? Far too much. How much do you or your company do that needs to be killed off?

Being the best

I’m not an advocate of quitting. From personal experience, success often comes when we push through the most discouraging moments, AKA: The Dip. Blogging was a great lesson in this for me, as early success led to high personal expectations, followed by external criticism that led to questioning of the purpose. It was only after I pushed through ‘The Dip’ that I felt successful.

Quitting matters because we need to find what we do well. That may mean trying some things, hitting a dip, and making a decision to quit or press on. What’s most important is knowing what things to quit and when to quit so that we can focus on things where we can be exceptional. It matters because as much as the world hates a quitter, it loves a winner. Winners tend to win big and yes, sometimes the ends justify the means.

The balance

Changing your goals, professional or personal, is very hard. You risk a credibility hit and that needs to be balanced against the need to be excellent at what you do. No one can make that decision for you.

Godin sums it up well, “Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do the right thing at the right time.”

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Categories: Disciplines, Strategy

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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