We’ve all listened to famous business gurus, read founder profiles, seen company origin stories, or even blockbuster movies, and they go something like this:
The underdog protagonist starts a thing.
Some struggle happens.
They overcome it and boom, a billion-dollars/championship medal/love of their life.
Unfortunately, in reality, the “never give up” attitude can screw us over. Whatever the prize, it’s misleading, and we need to pick our battles.
💸 Successful People
The people who advocate for never quitting usually have the same story they’ve lived and told themselves every day.
I put in hard work.
I succeeded because of it.
Their story is a genuine one. They know the amount of effort they put in and see this work ethic as the ultimate factor. And we can agree that work is a prerequisite, but it’s reasonable to say that it’s not the only success factor.
Our natural tendency is not to acknowledge luck, and when someone achieves their goal, it’s hard not to chalk it up to a cause-effect relationship.
But it’s usually not cause-effect. A distortion of reality occurs, and it’s very much mental. When someone is preaching “never give up,” it’s very much survivorship bias at play.
We need to instead listen to sensible people who’ve been there and done that. We need to listen to people who say, “Hey, look, it’s really f*cking hard, and success isn’t guaranteed.”
Not to put us down, but to show us the way. To give us a real chance.
💡 Quit vs. Continue
There are four times where you should definitely consider quitting.
1. Quit if your core assumption turns out rocky.
Core assumptions are the “why” behind what you started.
It happens when you try to start a business; it happens when making life decisions.
You could be feeling burnt out, feeling like you’re getting nowhere, or had a string of bad news, and that’s rough. However, they have nothing to do with your core assumption. If you ask yourself, “Has anything changed since I started this?” and the answer is no, it’s likely just the blues.
Scott Belsky says, “Ask yourself if knowing everything you know now, would you start over.” — If the answer is yes, that’s a sign you should consider quitting.
If it’s no and the core assumption stands, it’s a rough patch - hang in there.
2. Quit if it’s a dead-end rather than a dip.
A dip and a dead-end feel like they’re the same thing, so knowing what to look out for lets us avoid a bad call. Seth Godin writes all about this in The Dip.
The Dip illustrated by Ben Nadel.
You and I want scarce things; a successful book, thriving startup, pristine physique are all examples. They’re all scarce because they’re difficult. There’s a barrier to entry, and that barrier is the dip - don’t just quit because it’s hard—hard ≠ dead-end.
A dead-end is different. Here are 2 tell-tale signs.
You’ve been at it for a while, tried numerous things, but there’s no traction. Traction means progress in a KPI, e.g., customers, views, users, positive feedback.
Nobody else has achieved what you’re trying to achieve. Pioneering is often extremely difficult, and for most people, it’s a dead-end.
A lack of fair treatment in your job is a dead-end. Hating Mondays and finding no joy in your week is a dead-end. Feeling unappreciated by your friends consistently is a dead-end. Quit those situations. Find something with traction, something that’s tried and true.
3. Quit if your actions don’t reflect what you want.
“If you want to be successful, find out what the price is and then pay it.” — Scott Adams
“If you don’t get what you want, it’s a sign either that you did not seriously want it, or that you tried to bargain over the price.” — Rudyard Kipling
If it’s something others have achieved before, and there’s a way to get there, but what we’re doing isn’t aligned with what we want, that’s a problem. It could be an issue with grit or an unwillingness to pay the price, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it.
We’ve all dealt with friction for something we’ve been forced to do, like studying for a subject we hate.
We might not want it enough.
Forcing ourselves won’t help, and that’s fine — time to move on.
4. Quit if you have dived attention.
“I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.”
― Ray Dalio, Principles: Life and Work
Putting 40% into three things means that anyone putting 120% into one will come out on top, and there’s always someone that’s doing it. Pursuing a hobby solely for fun is okay. Quitting the forty-percenters and shifting the primary focus to the big goal will pay dividends over and over.
Sacrifice the good for the great.
🔗 Link Dump
🏝️ The 8 things I did before my 2019 solo travel trip to save as much as I did.
🧵 Great thread by Nicolas Cole on his experience starting his first company.
🔥 Some simple advice on success within your niche.
🦎 Conspiracy theories color-coded, the hilarious yet accurate chart I found on Twitter.
That’s all the links for this week, ladies and gents!
As always, thanks for giving me a slice of your time, and if you found some value in it, please consider sharing. 😄
Have a great week ahead, and I’ll see you in the next one. ✌