Oooh, this is a big topic for me. I need to get something straight and on the record here, concerning my whole "Do. Not. Quit" philosophy and mantra.
Whilst every single pore may exude a "Do. Not. Quit" energy, there must also be strategy, logical thinking and intelligence blended into the mix. To blindly, mindlessly follow the Do Not Quit mantra is insane. Who honestly would do such a thing? But I get asked about this a lot. A surprising amount of lot, so here's my philosophy in writing, and for the avoidance of doubt.
The confusion appears to be variations of: "I'm failing to achieve my goal(s). Do I have to flog this apparent dead horse forever, in the name of Do Not Quit perseverance?" The answer is no, of course not. Let's try and change the way of thinking here.
IT'S A PIVOT!
If you're driving your car to work - a destination you feel compelled to arrive at - and you happen upon major roadworks which have closed the road ahead, would you sit there for X number of days, weeks or months until the road reopens? Would you sit there, engine idling and think to yourself: "Well, I set out on this path, I am determined, so I will not quit this course I set for myself"? Of course not, you would find an alternative route, you would instigate change. The ultimate goal of getting to work would stay the same, but the road to get there must be adapted to accommodate new and unforeseen eventualities.
In another case, your goal might be, i.e.: to open three independent sportswear retail outlets by December 2025, but the premises you were exploring for Retail Outlet #2 just became unavailable, which sets you back. Do you quit and give up on the goal of three outlets by December 2025? Do you hell, you keep looking and start the exploratory process again - only this time you're armed with more knowledge and experience!
Here's another scenario. Your initial goal was to open three independent sportswear retail outlets by December 2025, and you've been giving this goal everything you've got: mentally, emotionally, financially and energetically. Then you're unexpectedly offered a partnership deal with a national gym and spa franchise, allowing you to retail from within their premises. Now might be the time to pivot, essentially dropping your initial goal, in favour of accepting this opportunity, which didn't even exist previously. This is not quitting, it's adapting, pivoting with flexibility to accommodate a perpetually changing world of opportunity.
Changing your plans, finding a detour, or even altering your goal or destination altogether is not quitting, it's pivoting. There is a huge and crucial difference between quitting and pivoting.
To quit is to leave, abandon, vacate, evacuate or desert. Quitting is a decisive and permanent decision to stop, to cease to be. Pivoting is to adjust, turn, swivel, adapt; there is movement associated with any of these definitions for pivoting. Do Not Quit = Do Not Stop: find another way, persevere, adapt, continue, redirect your focus, attention and energy. Sometimes a pivot is necessary. When the horse is dead, it's time to get off.
THE HEADBANGING FLY STORY
A friend of mine told me this story recently, about a headbanging fly.
He was sitting in a cafe one day during the summer, waiting for his lunch order to arrive. He was reading, and otherwise enjoying the sunlight and warmth through the large picture window he was sitting next to. After a while his attention was drawn to a common fly, flying itself repeatedly into the glass.
The fly had one clear objective...to get outside, but it couldn't penetrate or remove the obstacle in its path. Neither could its tiny fly-brain grasp the concept or properties of glass. There were forces working against the fly's objective, which the fly was incapable of understanding. Anyhoo...
Being a simple creature, the fly continued to do what it had always done, the only thing it knew how to do...fly. It continued to fly head first (obviously) into the glass window, until it had eventually bludgeoned itself to death. My friend wryly observed that had the fly just flown three feet to its left, a wide open door would have led the fly outside; goal accomplished. Quite the metaphor huh?
THWARTED AT EVERY THWARTATION
When you're thwarted at every thwartation, when the road you're trudging seems all uphill, rest if you must, but don't you quit - pivot, look for another route to success! Don't crawl under your duvet and feel sorry for yourself, don't run away from all that frightens you, because that just makes you a victim. What are you going to achieve from under there? All the momentum you have generated will gradually slow down and stop - so use it, don't waste it! Think about how long it took you to get everything going in the first place. Think about all that you've learned and experienced as result from the thwarted project. Why would you let it all wither and die under your Duvet of Self-Pity?
Instead, take the momentum, lessons and experience, pivot and leap in a different direction. It's not all over until you give up trying and stop fighting, but if you keep doing what you've always done, you're going to keep getting what you've always got. A common fly learnt this the hard way, and you're brighter than a fly...aren't you?
Let's be clear. There is no heroism in repeatedly throwing yourself against a widow that won't open for you, that's just foolhardy masochism. Perhaps it's not your window? Maybe you had to get this far down the road, having learned and experienced all that you have, before you were ready to embark upon a new direction - did you ever consider that possibility? Perhaps this phase has taught you all that it had to teach you, and now you're ready to level up? Why are you equating change with bad? What if this change is where your whole life pivots on a penny, for the better?
One fact remains true: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, whilst expecting different results. If you remain rigid and stuck doing what you've always done (even though it's not serving you well), because you're more comfortable living small and unchallenged than facing the unknown, then your life will be forever limited by your own inflexibility - and that's just a waste of your unique gifts and huge potential.
So when I say Do Not Quit, I'm not advocating mindless, lemming-like behaviour, I'm encouraging movement, momentum, adaptation, redirection and adjustment. If a business is not profitable, then end it and redirect your formidable energies, experience and resources elsewhere; but don't stop. If you've embarked upon a college course, but it's just not floating your boat, course correct and find something more suitable and engaging, but don't stop learning something new altogether. If training for the decathlon exceeds your current ability level, redirect your focus to the pentathlon instead, but don't quit athletes forever.
JUST DON'T STOP
This reminds me of my middle school PE teacher, the late and great Philip Knott. Periodically he would task us with running 1500 metres, and my heart would sink, because I was more tennis and netball orientated than athletics. Three-odd laps around the track was beyond my comfort level, but Mr Knott made it clear it wasn't a race. He told me this exercise was building stamina and endurance, so I could walk if I needed to (I needed to), but stopping was not an option - and here I am today still fully imprinted with, and inspired by, his words. Unsurprisingly my son's athletics coaches tell him exactly the same thing - when they can get a word in, following my motivational cheer leading of course.
Don't be afraid to change something, if what you're doing now isn't bearing fruit. Sometimes a pivot is necessary, and those who can't change their mind, can't change anything!
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