Krug: Five thoughts for the would-be quitter
Krug: Five thoughts for the would-be quitter

In the business world, we regularly are faced with challenges that seem too overwhelming to achieve.

In some cases, these obstacles only begin to reveal themselves after we have accepted the challenge.

Nonetheless, it is our ability to successfully navigate the big project or to conquer the gr.....

In the business world, we regularly are faced with challenges that seem too overwhelming to achieve.

In some cases, these obstacles only begin to reveal themselves after we have accepted the challenge.

Nonetheless, it is our ability to successfully navigate the big project or to conquer the great challenge that defines each of us. This is the work that truly makes a difference in our careers and propels us forward in our careers.

But the big project also can be intimidating. For some, it becomes too much and they feel that they have no choice but to beg out, bail out or flat-out quit.

You’re not alone in thinking that some tasks are too difficult to overcome. And you are not the first person to believe that they cannot accomplish something that once seemed achievable. Anyone that hasn’t felt overwhelmed at some point of his or her life either was born on third base, or hasn’t endeavored much of anything that mama couldn’t fix later.

As we begin to feel that the work and its consequences have mounted to an insurmountable point, doubt begins to set in. Doubt is a powerful thing. It can put hope into a sleeper hold. It can cause confidence to morph into pessimism. Doubt becomes certain fate.

Fate becomes, well, our destiny – right?

Sure, if we allow it to get to that point.

As rational beings, we all have the ability to see the road ahead and to anticipate the challenges that will slow us down or potentially stop us in our tracks. And knowing about them in advance doesn’t mean that we won’t be slowed down or stopped. However, knowing allows one to prepare for the inevitability that challenges lie ahead. There is a difference between the two.

Those that are impeded often respond to doubt by quitting. Stopped in their tracks, they simply stall out and do not move forward and eventually turn away from the challenge.

The metaphorical mountain climber returns to basecamp. In the context of the business world, the person whose assault on the summit ends by his or her own decision is not viewed as a beleaguered adventurer. No, he or she is viewed a quitter – or often as a failure – because they are someone that voluntarily resigned from the challenge because their belief in themselves was pushed aside by their self-doubt.

Quitting is never the right approach, and there are plenty of actions that can be taken to avoid an outright surrender. Keep these five thoughts in mind so that you never throw in the towel:

Trust is the ultimate compliment, so never betray it

If anyone in your life offers the opportunity to accomplish something big, or to take on a task that would seem audacious to others, it is because you have done something to earn their trust. You have shown them something meaningful in your ability to convert thoughts and words into actions. They believe in you, and see your potential. Perhaps they see something in you that you cannot yet see. And if you agree with their assessment of your abilities, and accept the challenge to achieve that something big, you have effectively entered into a contract of trust. You owe it not to them, but to yourself, to begin your trek. But they are also your Sherpa. If you get stuck on the mountain, make sure that you call on their guidance to help see you through.

Your word is your bond

If you have promised to accomplish a task, finish the job. A reasonable person would accept something less than perfect execution that results from an attempt at perfection. If you don’t work for a reasonable person, don’t accept the task. Find a new job. If you work for a reasonable person, honor the confidence shown to you by charging ahead. Ask the right questions at the beginning, and throughout. Although you may feel as if you are going at it alone, you’re never truly alone. Build a team – even if they are only aboard for moral support, or to serve as a sounding board. And remember, all attempts could be judged as imperfect. But not all attempts are sincere. If the best planning and execution results in an imperfect outcome, iterate on those results and improve them. But stay true to your word and produce a sincere first result.

Follow through, no matter how difficult the task

Some challenges present their true, inherent challenges only after they are undertaken. Turn over a rock and find another rock? Congratulations, you’ve stumbled into a situation that truly is challenging. But simply because there wasn’t a gold nugget beneath each rock that was overturned is no reason to stop turning over rocks. Toss an entire field of rocks into the hopper and eventually the ground will appear. Start digging there. The gold lies beneath. If that takes longer than you had anticipated, there – in fact – may be more gold beneath than you had first thought. When you start finding traces of the gold, and you will eventually, make sure that you share it with those that want it most. If there is truly heavy lifting still to be done, your communication may help to bring reinforcements your way.

Make an intellectually honest effort – always

In the midst of the battle, as the task is being attacked, the fog of combat can envelope any of us. That confusion can grind down even the most prepared of people, and cause them to lose their bearings. It is important to pause and take stock at recurring intervals – regardless of whether working on a major project or as we run through our regular schedule. In these moments of reflection, the key is to be intellectually honest with ourselves in assessing where we are, what we are doing and what must be done for a successful outcome to occur. Having a trusted ally that can offer honesty and constructive feedback to support or adjust your view can be invaluable – especially in the middle of a multi-faceted project.

Never quit

Quitting is difficult the first time that you do it, but becomes infinitely easier as time passes and resignation becomes an option. Each time, the rationalization for dropping out becomes an easier justification. Allowing a project to die, as one might allow a plant to wither by not watering it, is merely a passive means of resignation. Anything worth doing will be difficult. Challenges always will arise. Anyone that takes on a significant task will be riddled with doubt and concern. But there is an answer – or more likely answers – to every question. We must have the strength and conviction to ask them and to seek solutions. Just don’t ever quit before you’ve found them.

 • • •


 As always, stay classy.

Chris Krug is president of the progressive media communications firm No Limit Agency in Chicago. No Limit is a full-service agency whose practice focuses on strategy, brand management, creative campaigns and delivering unparalleled placement in the media. No Limit Agency works with some of the best-known brands in North America, and that’s not a coincidence. Contact Krug by calling 312-526-3996 or via email at [email protected].

ADVERTISEMENT