The tragic myth of giving up

The tragic myth of giving up
The tragic myth of giving up

Many assume giving up is wrong.

After choosing to discontinue a newsletter I started publishing earlier this year, someone sent me a James Allen quote about perseverance.

I’m starting to get the strange sense some people think I’m a quitter.

I think what many people don’t understand is that perseverance is a specific tactic for a specific situation.

But there’s no way to have that breakthrough in understanding without first journeying through the weeds. Come.

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Keep Trying!

I was like everyone else. I believed wholeheartedly in the idea of perseverance. And I applied it to everything I was doing.

Like most people who think perseverance is a virtue, I was learning a lot from personal development books, and I was excited about what I was discovering.

And the books were all basically saying the same thing — that if at first you don’t succeed, keep on trying!

Got it. Let me get on that!

It seems like good advice. But what most don’t know is there’s a difference between giving up and quitting.

Blind Perseverance

I’m naturally a loyal person. Always have been.

I was a loyal friend, loyal worker, loyal volunteer, loyal team member.

The interesting thing about loyalty is that at some point, people take advantage of you.

At first, you might not recognize what’s happening.

But behind the scenes they’re laughing about it. They’re patting themselves on the back for being expert manipulators.

You got played like a chess piece.

And by the time you’re aware that you’ve been taken advantage of, they’ve already gotten what they wanted out of the situation.

All you can do at that point is admit that you were being taken advantage of and remove yourself from the situation. And that’s hard.

If you repeat this mistake enough times, though, you’ll probably have some second thoughts around blind perseverance. And that’s good.

The cost can easily extend to your self-image, health, and wallet.

Don’t be Shackled by Anything

“I’m not loyal to anything I’ve said or committed to in the past.”

I once heard Derek Sivers say these words in a podcast (not verbatim).

Sivers is someone I have huge admiration for. He founded CD Baby and later sold the company to Disc Makers for $22 million. Most importantly, he’s a deep thinker, who always surprises me with how he answers questions. A modern-day philosopher.

I continued to follow him and his work long after he left CD Baby.

When I heard him utter those words, something changed for me. I realized I never needed to be shackled by anything I had once committed to.

That gave me the freedom and power I needed to step away from harmful situations. To give up the good for the great.

And if we’re honest with ourselves, we all need to do that periodically.

The Brutal, Honest, Truth

Ready for the truth? Don’t proceed beyond this point if you aren’t…

Most people assume perseverance is a virtue, but there’s little value in dedicating yourself to something you have no chance of ever succeeding in.

Most people sincerely believe they are the shining epitome of integrity but have never defined for themselves what integrity means to them. Integrity is not objective. It’s personal.

Most people set dozens if not hundreds of goals they’re not the least bit interested in achieving and would benefit greatly from letting go of any they haven’t touched in weeks or months. Goals shape the present.

Freeing themselves from that burden would allow them to be present to what matters to them and to dedicate themselves to the three or so goals they would deeply regret never accomplishing.

We all have “regret” goals. Ask yourself what you would do if you only had a year to live, and you’ll identify them rapidly.

None of this comes instantly. Much of it comes through a great deal of experience. It comes from recognizing you’ve only got so much time to engage in the few things you want to in this lifetime.

Never Quit? No! Never Quit on Yourself…

Perseverance shouldn’t be applied to everything. It’s a specific tactic for a specific situation. Most things people are quick to hold up as rules for life are specific tactics for specific situations.

Keep your desires. But be mindful enough and willing enough to take a dive when the roads you’ve chosen don’t get you there.

Your desires may not be wrong (there’s a good chance they aren’t!). But the path you’ve taken may not be pointed in the direction of your dreams. Notice that and adjust.

I knew the newsletter I created wasn’t going to get me to where I wanted to go. So, I gave it up. But I never quit on myself.

I will never quit on myself. But I will always give myself the freedom of choosing a new path when I need to.

And that’s why I do what I do. Get your free weekly action plan now.

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