Fact: Winners quit ruthlessly.
We’ve all heard the cliché, “winners never quit.” Like most clichés, that’s an oversimplified myth. The truth is much more nuanced.
Winners quit constantly. They quit frequently. They quit decisively and without regret.
They make a rigorous assessment of the hard facts. If the long-term prospect is grim, they sever the strings.
They don’t get emotionally attached to sunk costs. They don’t hang on in the hopes of “breaking even.” They cut their losses and move on.
But they don’t give up. Winners quit so they can chase something more successful. They use their newly-found free time and money to re-invent and re-focus.
If At First You Don’t Succeed … Try 13 More Times
Bestselling author Richard Evans said that he didn’t succeed at his first business. He succeeded at his 14th business.
Most people extrapolate a lesson of persistence from that statement, but there’s another lesson, as well: Evans was brave enough to quit 13 times when he realized his current endeavor wasn’t going to work out.
He didn’t whine that he already sunk three years into this industry, and he didn’t moan about already pouring $5,000 into this project. He quit, again and again, until he found something at which he could succeed.
Adapt. Reinvent. Have Faith.
The Stockdale Paradox is the seemingly contradictory idea that you must make a brutal assessment of reality AND have faith that you’ll prevail in the end.
This is considered a paradox because sometimes reality says, “Wake up. This ain’t gonna work.”
Quitters heed this message to mean, “Give up entirely. Go back to a soul-crushing job you hate.”
Winners heed this message to mean, “Adapt. Reinvent. Have faith.”
Stockdale Paradox Examples
Rafat Ali was the managing editor of the Silicon Alley Reporter, a small glossy magazine focused on the tech-development world in New York’s Silicon Alley.
Unfortunately, the people interested in tech-development tend to read news online, not in glossy magazines. The Reporter couldn’t secure enough advertising to keep its doors open.
In 2001, the Reporter quit the magazine world.
“We could have kept doing Silicon Alley Reporter as a 50-page magazine, but what would the point of that be when there is this huge opportunity to take on all these new industries where things are booming,” said the publisher, Jason Calacanis.
With his new-found time, Ali jumped into Silicon Alley with a more up-to-date idea: a website exploring the economic feasibility of online content.
The gamble paid off. Six years later, Ali sold the website for $30 million.
That wasn’t his first venture. It wasn’t his first career. And it certainly isn’t his last. But it was driven by a brutal assessment of the facts, one that forced him to re-imagine what’s possible.
The Silicon Alley Reporter team quit pursuing a path that couldn’t succeed. And in doing so, they opened the door for success beyond anything they’d imagined.
Thanks to Ex-Magician for today’s photo.