Simplifier in Science, Technology, and Life

Life and Experiences, Life Skills

Winners Quit Strategically

Board Game Checkmate Chess

Advice to persevere on a goal is commonly received. “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” “Nothing is impossible. The word itself says I’m possible!” …

Finally an article that gets it right (even though the title chosen is obviously wrong, sigh!, and it still misses providing a complete answer):


  • “… some of the most profitable businesses have been built, after the entrepreneur had quit on another idea … Twitter founders abandoned their podcasting company, Odeo. Other examples include YouTube, originally a dating site, … and Google, which began as library book search engine.”
  • “Some goals are worth sticking with and some aren’t.”
  • “Sometimes, we have to let go of a business, friendship, relationship, job or idea, to make room for a better one …”

So what exactly does it mean to quit strategically? When should one continue for the success may just be close, and when should one quit before all is lost to an unreasonable goal?

The following is a seemingly contradictory advice I have shared before:

In the TED talk, Ms. Duckworth mentions “willing to fail, to be wrong, to start over again with lessons learned.” This willingness to fail is taking risks towards a worthy goal. If one starts over again with the lessons learned towards the same overall goal, that isn’t quitting; that’s grit.

Quitting is when you give up on the goal itself, making way for a new goal.

If you re-target what you had built from the old goal to the new, that is a pivot (using startup terminology).

People frequently say that all problems are solvable. When I deep dive into the specifics, the “solving” soon turns out to be letting go of the problem, which is really quitting on it, not solving it. However, such quitting often rests on an understanding of a deeper goal inside, happiness or whatever. It is quitting on the current problem while showing grit on a deeper goal. This confuses some people into thinking they solved the problem. If the problem to be solved, the goal, were to be held constant, then existence of unsolvable problems is a mathematical fact. Yes, if being happy is the goal being talked about, there should always be a solution since happiness is majorly, though not fully, internal. 🙂

What do to in a given situation, quit or persevere, cannot be answered without looking carefully at that specific situation. Any of these wisdom quotes about never letting go, etc., are not a replacement for the above deep dive, which most people shy away from. When a correct full deep dive still leaves relevant (especially Boolean) unknown(s), the correct direction then is anyone’s guess, only luck can help there.

Some goals are worth sticking with and some aren’t.

{From the quoted article}

There is a harder question lurking here. Worth? How do you figure if your goal is worth?! And all the more so if you see yourself not succeeding. Answering that question is equivalent to answering whether to stick to that goal or not, making the statement quoted from the article actually unhelpful. 🙂

Especially with the ultimate truths not being known to us, we end up having our own preferences for what is worth to us. We may not know any better. And may or may not come out right in picking that worth. 🙂

Summary: Winners persevere/quit strategically. And the rest of the devil is in the detail of “strategically”.

Cover Photo: Pixabay

{Originally posted on LinkedIn (14 likes, 5 comments)}

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