When You Should Give Up


When You Should Give Up

For years I have lived by the mantra Don’t give Up.

‘Keep pushing on, persevere, Come on’ were all words I’d find myself saying subconsciously and passionately every day. This was naturally followed by a fist punch into the air. But one phrase beats them all and is held aloft by managers, motivators and entrepreneurs:

Don’t Give Up.

So much of the time people stop at the first hurdle when they feel deflated, discouraged, and things didn’t work out as they thought they would. They didn’t sell as many items as they thought they would. They didn’t get accepted for the job they were interviewing for. They didn’t have the concentration to study for the qualification. In all these cases, it’s right to shout “Don’t Give Up!”

But there are some people who should Give Up and Give Up quickly. It’s a subtlety to discern when to stop walking down a dead end road and when to turn around. What do you do when sales aren’t coming in and you can’t get traffic on your target keywords. Days and weeks are ticking by, and you’re not getting conversions and people don’t seem interested in your product. Some would say “Don’t Give Up”; I’d say “Give Up.”

What would you do if cash flow’s a consistent problem? You have too many staff but you’re desperate to keep them in work. Debts are piling up and creditors aren’t paying. You don’t want anyone to lose a job, so you’re fighting to keep them all in work. You’ve invested so much energy into this project that you know something has to break soon. It’s just around the corner, and having hit the wall, you’re still hanging on in there. Some would say “Don’t Give Up”, but I’d say “Give Up.”

Giving up is not a sign of weakness, sometimes it’s a sign of wisdom. Giving up is the recognition that if you’re failing, there’s something you’re doing that doesn’t work.

It may involve a pivot, as aptly described by Eric Reis, in his book The Lean Start Up.

It may involve understanding the difference between pushing through, and realising it’s a dead end. Seth Godin’s The Dip. The Dip explores the differences between Dips (keep going) and cul-de-sacs (give up).

The adrenalin, energy and pumping blood that pulsates through your body when you shout to yourself in the morning “Don’t Give Up” can actually be the very obstacle for you seeing things clearly.

You need to see clearly to successfully move on.

It seems the wise know when to get out, they know when they have come into a cul-de-sac and when the dead-end ahead is going to cause a crash. So if your tendency is to keep on pushing, to be a dog with a bone and you’re immensely confident that things will turn out differently, allow yourself to pause and reflect. It’s not a sign you lack courage, but gives you the space to pivot, to persevere or to relax and give up.


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