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Quitting Sucks

Think back to a time in your life when you quit something. Quitting sucks. I don't mean quitting something bad like smoking or drinking or watching purple dinosaurs with your kids. I mean when you quit something that's hard, something that requires more than you are willing to that moment. Quitting sucks. It sucks for you, it sucks for the people in your life when you quit and it sucks for the unseen dozens, hundreds or thousands who were counting on you not to quit.

I quit something that I have regretted for the last 16 years. When I was in college I played soccer. I was on scholarship, not a big scholarship, but it was decent enough the coach thought it justifiable to subsidize my education. But I quit. As soccer increasingly impeded my social life and ambitions outside the classroom I decided I would stop.

It took about a year, but it happened. The gnawing regret set in and now every time I think about that hastily made decision I wish I had decided differently. I wish someone would have tried harder to talk me out of it. I wish I would have paused to consider the "no going back" part of my decision. I wish I would have understood that quitting is a one-way street. There is no going back. I wish...I wish...I wish...

And that's why I quit and that's why I still regret it. I was wishing my way to an easier, less stressful, more enjoyable college career. I should have been working my way there, but I wasn't. I was wishing. And unless you're a fairy godmother (or have access to one) wishing will get you little in life.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon I caught myself watching Rudy on cable. Rudy is the story of Dan "Rudy" Ruettiger, a small football player with a big heart. Rudy earned his way into Notre Dame football history by not quitting. There is a scene in the movie at a time when Rudy has been denied admission to Notre Dame for the third or fourth time. He's sitting in a church, incredibly distraught and he asks the priest "Have I done everything I possibly can?"

That, in a nutshell, is the story of Rudy Ruettiger. It explains his success at Notre Dame and the stamp he has placed on the world. He could have blamed the admissions staff, the system of privilege, his parents inability to help, or any other of a hundred excuses. But he didn't because he knew those things were irrelevant. The only thing that mattered was whether or not he had done everything he possibly could to achieve his goal.

When you quit you stop asking "Have I done everything I possibly can?" When you quit you are usually saying something like "I wish it would have turned out better." It is OK to fail. As business owners we have innumerable opportunities to fail every day and every week. There are goals we miss, initiatives that die on the vine, projects that fall flat, employees that don't work out and customers that get upset. Quitting says "that's life and there's nothing I can do about it." I want to challenge you to ask a question instead. Ask "Have I personally done everything I possibly can to make this happen?" If the answer is yes, you might be failing. If the answer is no you are on the verge of quitting. Act wisely after you answer. Sixteen years later you'll remember your choice, and you'll remember it with pride or regret.

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Reader Comments (2)

Thanks for this post. Lately, I have thought about quitting because the goal I want to accomplish seems very challenging. However, I don't want to look back 10 years from now and regret quitting. This post really gives me a clear perpective. Although I feel like I am giving my all, I need to give more and I need to continue and accomplish what I started.

There is only one thing that I struggle with all the time and that's balancing between my career goals and personal life. I also don't want to look back 10 years from now and feel like my life has just gone by and I missed the fun.

I guess that's what makes life so interesting. We have to make choices everyday.

Great post, lot's to think about. . .

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMLG

I like how you focus on the difference between quitting and failure. How many of us can look back on a "failure" and say that we went down with guns blazing. Most often we look at the "failure" and wish we had done this, or tried that....You're right Joey, that's not failing, that's quitting.

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Beale

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