Winners never quit, and quitters never win, right?
That's something I've believed much of my life. Stick-to-itiveness can push you up mountains and down trails, drive you out of a warm sleeping bag and into the snow at dawn, help you run your own company day in and out.
After all, if quitting is equated with failure, perseverance means success, right?
Well, not always.
I've long regarded the term "quitter" as an insult. But a dogged, never-give-up attitude can carry you directly into trouble on the trail, on the mountain, and in life. Sometimes it's OK to quit what you're doing. It even can be necessary, strategic, and beneficial.
Storm clouds on the peak? Forgot the map in the car? Rapids look like more than you're prepared to handle? Time to reevaluate, perhaps time to QUIT.
Quitting isn't just about avoiding danger and saving your bacon though. Quitting has a positive side. It frees you up to seize new, better opportunities. If you tenaciously, but blindly, stick with what you've been doing just because you don't want to give up, then it's likely time to stop, take a look around, and ask yourself "how's this working out?" I did.
This fall I took a two-month sabbatical from Trailspace. While I understood the personal and professional value of stepping back and refocusing, I worried about abandoning our community, not getting things done daily, being seen as a...gasp...quitter.
Coincidentally, the Freakonomics podcast “The Upside of Quitting” came out the day I announced my sabbatical. Sunk and opportunity costs don't just apply to businesses. They apply to the personal choices we make daily. If you hike every Saturday just because your friends do, you're not learning to whitewater kayak. If you're training for an event that no longer inspires you, you're not planning that backcountry ski trip.
I also happened upon "For Great Leadership, Clear Your Head" in the Harvard Business Review blogs. It advocated for reflection and time for ideas to percolate for better vision and leadership. I get that. My best and most passionate writing and site ideas come during long runs and hikes, which I had more time for during a sabbatical. The universe seemed to be supporting my move.
The sabbatical—my temporary quit—is now over. But the downtime allowed me to return to Trailspace with a clearer head and vision, for myself and for the community.
I have no intention of becoming a serial quitter. I still believe that perseverance is an essential ingredient of success. But sometimes you just need to quit already, so you can move forward.