Never quit: How to maintain integrity of effort

Here are some steps you can take to ease your path

I just returned from my annual women's backpacking trip. It was awesome to be in pristine wilderness with good friends. Yet this trek was longer than previous years, and it reaffirmed some of the 'Never Quit' principles.

On the way out, carrying a heavy load in a different pack that did not fit me well, I doubted if I was going to make it. My friends had hiked together with me for most of the day, but when we got to the last three miles, after a refreshing dip in a mountain stream, they took off like horses heading to the barn. I was alone and tired. I wanted to quit, but that was not an option.

What did I do? I sang songs to re-energize. I divided the hike into one-mile segments using the 'divide and conquer' strategy and rested after each leg. I stopped to eat and drink water at that point, and I continued step by step. It was past 6:30 p.m. when I arrived back at the trailhead, but I made it!

You've probably been there. There have been many times with my current and former pursuits when I've considered calling it quits. Indeed, there are times when it's the right thing to do. There is much to gain, however, from assessing the situation before making a rash decision to quit — a decision you may regret.

A successful serial entrepreneur who is now the CEO of Orbotix, Paul Berberian, once told me, "Every entrepreneurial venture of mine has been at the brink of failure at one point in time. We somehow were able to pivot and bring about a good end." He had and still has the 'never quit' attitude.

Practical Pointers

Take a break. Rest. Step back and gain some perspective. You may be burned out and not able to see the forest for the trees.

Do an honest assessment. Use the multiple techniques explained in my book, Pursuit of Passionate Purpose (p. 115-120) — Smile / Sign Monitor, Force Field Analysis and Progress Inventory. What is working? What is not?

Assess Intrinsic Motivators. Are you getting a sense of meaningfulness, choice, progress, and competency from this pursuit? If not, why not? Can anything be changed?

Ask Outsiders. What would they do if they were in this situation? Ask why. It may be obvious to others what to do. Ask for help.

Pivot. Is there an alternative gameplan or strategy that would get you moving where you want to go? What would it take to implement?

Divide and Conquer. Have you taken on a huge project, perhaps too large? Can you divide the project into portions and accomplish just one piece? If you accomplish this, might that give you a sense of progress and re-energize you to continue?

Plan B. If there's no forward movement, if you have no energy / passion / enthusiasm for the pursuit, and if all alternatives have been exhausted, it may be appropriate to move on. What can you do to maintain your integrity of effort and learn even in this ending?

Don't Quit – A Poem

While hiking, I recited a popular poem written by an anonymous author called Don't Quit that has helped me over the years. The last stanza is below.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit!

Success comes from a "never quit' attitude. Maintain your integrity of effort. Take these steps to help you along the way: take a break, assess progress, ask for help, pivot, and divide and conquer.

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