“Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

Vince Lombardi

Someone might have shared this quote with you before to motivate you not to quit.

I don’t know the exact context that Vince Lombardi was referring to. But phrases taken out of context don’t always work.

When to quit

In The Dip, Seth Godin wrote that while you shouldn’t be quitting a market, strategy or a niche in business, quitting a product, feature or design is perfectly fine. In fact, he added that you need to “do it regularly if you’re going to grow and have the resources to invest in the right businesses”.

Some might call this idea of quitting a product, feature or design pivoting. And companies actually do pivot often. Not only that, you can pivot in your own career as well.

It’s not about quitting entirely, but about quitting your initial plan of execution.

When we set out to accomplish something, we can be fixed on the end goal, but we can be flexible in how we get there. The are many routes to climb a mountain. And you don’t have to be fixated on just one single route.

What’s important is that we don’t participate in reactive quitting. That is, quitting the moment things get tough. That’s when quitters never win.

Strategic quitting, however, is a different story. It allows us to conserve our resources, be it time, energy or money. It allows us to channel resources to things that matter the most.

Sometimes we are afraid of quitting something because we’ve already invested a lot of resources. But strategic quitting can help cut our losses. We don’t have to spend even more time and money unnecessarily to make strategies work when they can’t work.

Therefore, quit early and do it often – as long as it’s strategic quitting and not reactive quitting.

When to keep going

The dip is where extra effort results in less results than you wanted. It's the dark place to get through before you reach success.
Keep going to get through The Dip

Anything worth pursuing will probably have a period where you will hit a plateau (aka The Dip). It’s the period where the marginal benefit you get out of the pursuit diminishes. In learning a skill, it’s where you get less and less improvement until you don’t seem to be improving at all.

If we keep quitting when things get hard, we are probably not going to progress much in any area of life.

If you still believe in the work you are doing, the cause that you are pursuing, then maybe it’s wise to keep going. Change your strategies when they don’t work, for sure.

But remember that life is a marathon and not a sprint. If you try to do life as if it were a sprint, you will burn yourself out quickly. I believe that a wiser strategy is to do very little but to choose what you do carefully, and to do them well.

A combination of passion and perseverance can help you to get through difficult seasons. (Angela Lee Duckworth on TED)

Sometimes it’s going to feel like you are making no progress. But maybe that’s ok for a short period. Maybe all you need to do is just to keep on keeping on.

Persevere for a while to give yourself time and space to think. Maybe even take a break if you need it.

But you need to decide if your pursuit is worth the effort to push past the point where the extra effort seems to not produce the results you need. If it’s not worth it, then quit. As soon as you can. But if it is, then you need to keep going.

Winners never quit in the important things. But they do quit (sometimes often) from the things that hinder them.

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