Thursday, April 24, 2014

When to quit quitting

There are a lot of motivational sayings intended to inspire people to keep trying, even when things get hard. After all, it takes hard work to accomplish something worthwhile, right?

Here are some inspiring sayings I found about not quitting:

“Winners never quit and quitters never win.--Vince Lombardi”

“If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride - and never quit, you'll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards.--Paul Bryant”

“Defeat doesn't finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he's defeated. He's finished when he quits.--Richard M. Nixon”

There are some other quotes on the subject that take a bit of a different spin on the subject.

“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a fool about it.--W. C. Fields”

“I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places.--Henny Youngman”

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.--Albert Einstein”

I’ve wondered time and again if refusing to quit and having the courage to walk away are opposites. My conclusion? It’s not that simple. Let me give you an example.

I studied hard to get my degree in communications. I wanted to be a TV director. While going to BYU, I had access to the control room of the TV station. Between classes while we were off the air, I would sit down at the video switcher and practice, and practice, and practice some more.

I worked my way up in the field to where I became the Operations Manager at a 24 hour news station in the New York City market. This may sound boastful, but I became a really good director, mainly due to all of the hard work I put in.

And then, I walked away from it.

Why? I realized that the working environment was changing me. I became more cynical, more jaded, and more frustrated. I didn’t like who I was becoming, so I quit and walked away. (Other reasons included not being able to keep commitments to my family or church because breaking news always came first and also because TV news continued to become more sensational.)

So, according to the quotes at the beginning, I quit, therefore I’m not a winner. Or am I?

I decided to do something else. I wrote books. I went back to school to get my Master’s degree. I took a job as a substitute teacher. I might end up teaching at the college level or maybe even high school one day. There are all sorts of possibilities.

Now, with five novels out, and the sixth on the way, I wonder if I’m making the right choice. After all, writing is a lot of hard work. It takes time, and there is no guarantee that all my hard work will pay off.

To be fair, I’ve done pretty well. My books have gotten overall positive reviews and I’ve sold more copies than I ever imagined—but I could always sell more.

Like most writers, I have those moments of “Is what I’m writing any good? Does anyone want to read this?” And that’s when I choose not to quit.

Choosing not to quit writing and quitting TV are different to me. One of these activities is helping me become the person I want to be, while the other was tearing me down.

And that’s the difference then, isn’t it. Quitting isn’t bad if you are quitting something bad.

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