Ozan Varol is a self-proclaimed “professional quitter” who has left careers in rocket science, law and academia, saying that quitting is a way to move past sunk costs and see what other opportunities exist. “If you want to soar, you must cut loose what weighs you down,” he writes.
In fourth grade, I received one of the worst pieces of advice I’ve ever heard.It’s recess and we’re playing soccer. I’m on defense, trying to clear the ball, and it’s just not working. Opposing players are running right past me. With each goal scored against my team, my budding dreams of becoming a star defender are quickly fizzling.
After the game ends in a crushing defeat, a teacher who was observing my plight walks up and delivers some well-intentioned advice:
Don’t ever give up.
This bumper sticker is everywhere. Society prizes grit and perseverance. We should keep chasing our dream and refuse to hang up our cleats—real or proverbial. Damn the torpedoes.There’s a huge stigma attached to quitting. Quitting is undignified. Quitting means you failed. If you quit, you are a quitter. “Winners never quit, and quitters never win,” as the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi purportedly put it.
But reality—as is often the case with reality—is far more nuanced.“Grit shouldn’t mean repeatedly doing what’s not working or clinging onto something long after it’s outlived its purpose.”
Yes, many people quit when they should persist. You shouldn’t give up on your goal simply because things got hard or because you fell down a few times.Yet many people persist when they should quit. Grit shouldn’t mean repeatedly doing what’s not working or clinging onto something long after it’s outlived its purpose.