I see this phrase a lot: “never give up.” People utter it as a kind of bravado, a kind of challenge to say that you have to persist to succeed. The problem is, the thinking is flawed. There are PLENTY of times when one should give up. I see them every day. Every day.
Mister Seth Godin schooled me personally HARD in The Dip. If you didn’t buy that book, do so. And read it. It’s like… a half hour of reading. It’s tiny and yet so powerful.
There is a right time to give up. There’s a right time to quit. The trick, and it is a HUGE trick, is knowing which is which.
In the new book that Julien and I are working on, that’s something we’ll talk about. We’ve both come to realize that by experimenting frequently, often privately, and iterating on our failures, we’ve come out ahead faster than not. But in that, we’ve learned when to give up. We’ve learned when to kill something that’s not working.
I urge you to think about this long and hard. As the year is coming to an end, review your efforts of the last year frankly. Ask yourself where it worked. Ask yourself where it wasn’t really all that successful. And determine what you’re going to do next. But do, in fact, think about when it might be time to give up, and then try something else.
One Last Thing
Remember that surrender is every bit as much a part of strategy as victory. Learning when to surrender or lose a smaller battle has been part of the success plan of every major war ever fought. The trick is in knowing what really matters, and never letting go of that. The problem we have is that we fall into the trenches and think the battle is the war.
Never give up? Hell. Give up all the time. Just keep your eyes on the real prize, what really matters, and don’t let that go.
Photo credit Beverly & Pack