“Winners never quit and quitters never win” is an expression that’s as motivating and well-intentioned as it is inaccurate and misleading.
We’re taught quite early in life to never give up. It’s standard motivational speaking material.
But this challenge to keep going no matter what often bypasses context. Instead, it focuses on generating some kind of aspirational energy to achieve a goal that may be genuinely unattainable at that moment because of factors unseen or ignored.
It attempts to push us to do more (for ourselves, for a cause, for glory) with the threat of disgrace: shame is the consequence of failure.
And when we buy into this kind of thinking without first confronting the realities of our situation, we tend to go at things till we break.
That’s achievement culture at its worst and it’s making people sick.
Fact 1. Throwing yourself at life doesn’t guarantee anything.
What happens when you give your all, hit your breaking point and still turn up empty?
Sometimes you need to drop everything and walk away. No slogging, no hustling on all fronts, no second thoughts about shame.
Those times could be when you’re worn out and your health is at stake or when you’ve given what you know for sure is the best you can muster.
Fact. 2. No one wins all the time forever.
This isn’t negative thinking, it’s a reality you need to make peace with so you don’t beat yourself up for quitting or go crazy from trying to do what may not be possible at a set time.
As shocking as it may sound, we’re probably even better off not succeeding all the time: to fail is to learn and to learn is to grow.
Fact 3. Walking away doesn’t always mean you’re done trying.
People who take a break to preserve themselves can return to try for a breakthrough (whatever this means) some other time.
Granted, you may not return to the same opportunity or be offered the same reward as before but there’ll always be a goal to pursue.
Courage isn’t always about persisting to succeed.
Quitting takes bravery too and, like it or not, it’s sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself.
No one gets to call you a coward for that.