I have always been fascinated by the quotation attributed to Vince Lombardi, the American Football coach, that goes like this “Winners Never Quits and Quitters Never Win”. When I was younger, it is a quotation that fuels me because it is one of those quotes that is very romantic because it is idealistic. That was how I read it.
As I grew older my idealism is slowly intermixed with pragmatism and this quotation begins to disturb me. On one hand I want it to be true on the other hand there is a feeling that the quotation might need to be examined because it seem a harsh, unrealistic and unforgiving dogma. Nothing can be that absolute because it seems unwavering and pushes you unrealistically to stick to something you started without any option of a recourse. At this age, I didn’t have the insight neither the life experience to make sense of it. Yes on one hand it is true that you shouldn’t quit but on the other hand, really there is no quitting even for a good cause?
As I enter into midlife, with life insights from numerous unsavoury experiences which are too many to bother to count, this quotation takes a new light. It now sits within a context that makes more sense. Its meaning becomes all the more clear.
I do believe that quitting is an option to be considered and taken but not one that should be taken lightly. It must come with the upmost scrutiny and deliberation. It has to be one done with deliberateness and with the most clear of intent. It being an option is where the problem lies with quitting. It can becomes the first choice we take when hit with an situation. If that is the case, truly the quotation in its most obvious sense is true especially when it becomes a habit. In this instance, the quotation is a dire warning to us all.
However, if alternative actions preceding to the action of quitting has been taken and the intent of the quit is clear, then quitting is a must for us to eventually win. The win is bigger than the quit. The quitting could just be a mile stone in the journey to win. What you don’t quit on is the journey. Sometimes in order to continue on the journey to a win, quitting something is a must because the consequence of not quitting might just lead you to losing the whole race. At best, not quitting could delay the win. A case in point is your dream. Not quitting your dream is a must but along the way, there will be times you will be called to quit.
Let us take a popular example of Thomas Edison, the poster boy of not quitting. He is famously accredited with the quotations “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”. Yes he did not quit on his dream of inventing a light bulb. However, I am sure he must have had certain theories or believes that he had to give-up or quit on in order for him to move forward in realising his dream? If not he won’t not have tested and failed so many times. What was he failing on? Certain hypothesis. Quitting those hypothesis is important for him to move forward. This is not the only true life example of how quitting does make winners. You hear loads of stories in the entrepreneurship world about this too.
So now that quitting is an option towards an eventual win, what are the criteria that makes quitting a necessity? Base on my own life experience and the coaching I have gotten, there are four consecutive questions that must be answered before taking the action to quit. If the answers is a YES at every stage, then by all means quit. If any of the answer is a NO, than don’t quit. The answer that matters in each of this question is yours and not anyone else’s. This is because you are the main actor of your life. It also requires your
The first question is “Have you done and be all that you can?” If the unequivocal
answer is a YES you can move onto the next question. If there is hesitation or a NO, don’t quit. Be creative, go find more ways and solutions.
The subsequent question is “Are you not willing anymore?” ?” If the unequivocal
answer is a YES that means you want to quit. Therefore, you can move onto the next question.
The third question is “Does quitting gets you to move forward & be better?” If the unequivocal answer is a YES that means you have thought of the consequences of the future.
The last question is “Are you clear of the reason why you are quitting?” If the unequivocal answer is a YES that means you have the clarity of your intent to quit. If so, now go quit quickly so that you don’t have to suffer further.
So back to the quotation by Vince Lombardi, I would still take inspiration from it with an added clause that says “Winner do quit with a clear intent and deliberateness to win”