If There’s No Light At The End Of The Tunnel: QUIT

If There’s No Light At The End Of The Tunnel: QUIT

Don’t you think life is weird sometimes? Take quitting.

Most of us believe that it’s wrong to quit. That it’s for losers. And that quitting equals failure.

The ‘never quit’ attitude is a good thing. Especially when we pursue hard things. I don’t think you should ever quit just because you can’t handle something.

However, quitting is also a smart strategy. Sometimes quitting is even the better option.

Seth Godin wrote a book about quitting. It’s called The Dip. And it’s very good. He says:

“Persistent people are able to visualize the idea of light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it. At the same time, the smartest people are realistic about not imagining light when there isn’t any.”

Sometimes you’re in a tunnel where there is no light to be found at all. So no matter how hard you work and persistent you are, you will never achieve anything.

Dead end jobs, businesses, projects, relationships, behavior. We’ve all been there.

Quitting is not easy.

Be honest, how many times did you have the guts to quit? Because I’ll tell you this, quitting is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

When I got a corporate job a few years ago, I was fed up with owning a business. I was burnt out, didn’t see the results I wanted, and felt overwhelmed. So I decided to quit my business and get a corporate job.

But I just couldn’t fully quit entrepreneurship. So I was stuck in the middle of a corporate job and not letting go of my business. I worked the corporate job during the days, and in the evenings and weekends, I worked for myself.

That made my life even more stressful. And after a year I had the same feeling as before I got the job. I was on a dead end.

I didn’t have the desire to climb the corporate ladder. And I also didn’t have the energy to grow my business. I realized that the path I was on lead to nowhere.

I knew what I had to do. I struggled with it daily in my mind. And it took months to get my act together and hand in my resignation. I did that with tears in my eyes. Quitting is not in my DNA.

If you can’t climb the ladder you’re on: Quit and pick a different ladder.

Let’s say you work at a corporation and you want to climb that ladder. I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. You just need commitment. But I get why a lot of people don’t like it because there’s a lot of politics involved.

Look, I’m also not good at that stuff, but that doesn’t mean corporations are evil. They are only a reflection of society. And not everyone can become a CEO or board member. It’s simply a game of numbers. It’s not personal.

Mark McCormack, author of What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School, said it best:

“Darwinism influences almost any pyramid-shaped structure, and the corporation is not only not an exception, it is probably the best example. There are simply not as many presidents as vice-presidents, there aren’t as many vice-presidents as there are managers, and so on.”

That book is from 1984. And yet, a lot of people don’t get the concept. The corporate food chain looks like this:

corporate foodchain

Many things are like that. If you don’t want to play that game, just get out.

In The Dip, Seth Godin argues that you should only strive for becoming the top dog. Everything else is not worth it.

In other words: Only try to climb the corporate ladder if you’re in it to win. Otherwise, it’s better to quit.

You make a bigger impact when you’re #1.

Seth Godin says:

“We reward the product or the song or the organization or the employee that is number one. The rewards are heavily skewed, so much so that it’s typical for #1 to get ten times the benefit of #10, and a hundred times the benefit of #100.”

I must say, I don’t like the way Seth puts this. You can easily interpret that it’s all about the rewards. In other words: Ca$h money, fame, status, etc.

I don’t care about that shit. If I would, I would be doing a lot of other things instead of writing a bunch of free blog posts. I agree with Seth’s message, but for a different reason.

To me, being #1 is good for only one reason: You get to make a bigger impact.

LeBron James. Richard Branson. Oprah Winfrey.

They are #1s in their fields. They also make the biggest impact. They help and inspire the most people.

Plus, they set the bar. They push the limits of what is possible. And others will either follow or move past them.

Don’t settle for mediocrity.

When it comes to quitting, there’s only one question you want to ask yourself:

“Is there light at the end of the tunnel I’m in?”

  • Are people responding to my blogs, videos, music?
  • Is there mutual respect in my relationship?
  • Are people buying my products?
  • Can I climb the ladder in my organization without playing politics? (In case you think this is not possible, read What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School.)

If your answer is no, it’s time to quit. Find a different crowd. Move to a new company. Rediscover love.

Whatever you do, find a different tunnel. And keep doing that until you find one where there is light. And once you see one ray of light, cling to it and don’t quit before you reach the end (or top).

For now, just quit already.

 

 

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9 comments

  1. Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to see.. in black and white. You know, one quality in longtime runners is persistence or in it’s harmful form, stubbornness. I need to quit being stubborn and let my relationship end.
    Jenny

  2. Not sure I completely agree with this. I am one of the many, but I like it there. My job is to analyze data and provide answers for my managers and my company. I have no interest in being the top dog and managing people who analyze the data. I like being the one who can help find the information needed by my company and make it more efficient and aware. My work at the level of the many – helps the many others and the managers and top leaders at my company. It isn’t necessary to be at the top of the corporate ladder to be the best at what “you” do. So I don’t feel the need to quit because I won’t be president some day….I guess I’m not heading towards that light.

    1. Hi SK – I totally agree with you. I’ve had a really fulfilling career – and I’m incredibly good at what I do. (I’m in a role much like yours.) I’m not a CEO (which, to be honest, doesn’t appeal to me at all), but I’m respected for my skills and my opinion is valued. I find great satisfaction in my job because I’m at the ‘top’ of my game – and I get to experience it fully without the responsibility of managing others, who would distract me from my goals.

  3. To get to the top and have your ideas realized.funny i have a picture on the wall ,it says dont quit.with ill the reasons why you never quit.reading you post i realize so things you must quit.life is to short and yes every company need people not on top but you have to be able to move up to better yourself.mental stagnation is a ture killer.some time you have to try 5 different ways to solve the problem.sometimes you know the answer and quitting makes sense.

  4. Awesome. After having some hard moments earlier in my life, I learned the value of quitting. So quitting has become something reasonable and possible for me. Not necessarily easy, but doable. I quit my restaurant job. I quit my bakery job. I quit trying to find a regular career at a regular university. I quit trying to find a corporate job. I quit trying to please people. Now? I study typography. So odd, uncommon, and neat… just like I like it. Common just isn’t right for me. I need to know I’m doing something that when I tell people they will never have even thought it could be a career. I can’t stand the “lawyer, doctor or manager” way of thinking. When I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said millionaire. Just because I didn’t want the responsibility of having to pick a “job” already.
    I just want to do something weird, technical, neat and related to subconscious. If that means quitting everything… go for it

  5. Thank you for sharing that excellent quote about smart people who are realistic about not imagining light when there isn’t any! It takes guts to quit — that’s very true.

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