“Ninety percent of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” (Paul J. Meyer)
“Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” I don’t know where she got the quote from, but this is one that my mother preached to me growing up. I was essentially never allowed to quit anything. Once I started an activity, or playing a sport, I had to see it to the end, even if I wasn’t doing well. For her it wasn’t about making me stay in something until I “won”, but more that she knew that if I was allowed to just quit when things were tough it would build a bad habit in me.
Of all the times she made me stay in something I didn’t want to complete, being a Webelos Scout comes to mind the strongest. Back then Webelos was a 2 year program for boys in the 4th and 5th grade, much like it is today. The difference was that as a 4th grader, I was in a group with all 5th graders. The older boys didn’t take to me. They had been together for years, and didn’t like that there was a new kid, who was a year younger, in their group. They were hard on me and bullied me. I desperately wanted to quit, but my mother was steadfast that I needed to see it through the school year, and I could quit when summer came.
Summer did come, and I didn’t quit. The following fall those boys moved on, and I was put into a group that was a mix of 5th and 4th graders. I finished out my time as a Cub Scout the following summer, and eventually went on to Boy Scouts. Being involved in Boy Scouts was a part of my life for the next 30 plus years, and I owe that to my mother not letting me quit as a 4th grader.
For the most part in my adult life I have followed her advice. I have been on projects or in situations at work that were less than ideal. Rather than seizing the opportunity to get out, I have always chosen to stay and see the job to the end. It is just a part of me to stay with things and see them through.
It isn’t true in all parts of my life. I have told the stories here of how I failed at my business of selling photography, and in that case I mostly quit. But that is the rare exception to the rule in my life. Generally I see things through.
I am not saying that everyone who finds themselves in a difficult situation should always stay and work, avoiding the notion of quitting. There are some situations that are just toxic, that no one should endure. For those people, getting out is the safest and best option. I am saying that for the majority of others in the world, they would find more success the more they stuck to things instead of giving up. Had I had the time, patience and wherewithal to stick to my photography business, I have no doubt that I would have eventually succeeded. And who knows, maybe I will resurrect that notion again in the future.
My mother didn’t quote statistics in her admonishment to me, she chose to speak in absolutes. For her it was always true that quitters were not winners, and winners were not quitters. In the world of sports, that is definitely true, to win you have to finish, and quitters don’t finish.
Whether taking the approach of the “statistically” based notion of today’s quote, or the more absolute version of my mom’s, the simple truth remains. To get ahead, to win in life requires staying in the game, and sticking to something even when the road is difficult. I doubt that I will ever depart from that notion in my life.