How to Know When It Is Time To Quit?

This night at 2AM I got rude awakening.

Some drunken moron was scratching our door and did not realize that he was on the wrong door. After trying to tell him that he is on the wrong apartment for about 100 times (and those who know me I do not have that subtle or quiet voice, quite the contrary), I eventually called the cops. Cops took him out and apologized.

After maybe an hour this nitwit came back. Apparently half an hour of trying to open door with no success with his key and excursion from authorities was not enough to unsettle his dedication. This guy was adamant that it is his house, although all the evidence pointed totally opposite. He was naturally drunk as skunk, but full of willpower nevertheless.

Luckily this ignoramus was finally placed in cell or passed out somewhere on the streets after my second call to the police. There was peace in the household and I finally got some sleep.

This got me thinking about persistence. When you should know when to quit?

We always appreciate people who struggle through obstacles: those who go against the grain, those who succeed against all odds, when there is a will there is way –type of business. Although everyone says to them that it will not work, they just believe in themselves and make it work by sheer decisiveness. Even I celebrated that boneheadedness on my yesterday´s post. Sometimes however you should give up and change your course.

What if you are going totally in wrong direction? It does not help to struggle, if every step takes you just further away from your real goal. It is a delicate balance, because I have always believed that it is better to fight until the bitter end than to give up too easily. However, if you try to win a fight by any means necessary you quite often jeopardize the whole war. It is hard to say when to call it quits, but here are three tricks you should utilize:

1. Believe in yourself, but do not trust yourself completely.

If you do not believe in yourself, no one else will. Many of the great men & women have been driven with egomaniacal belief of their own capabilities and vision. However when you only have hammer all the problems start to look like nails. When we are obsessed with our single-minded vision, we neglect the screws and bolts around and just try to hammer through.

The thinking of that drunken muttonhead was right in principle: “I have a key. It will open a door”. He was too obsessed with opening the door that he did not stop to think was it even right door at the first place.

2. Listen to the people you trust and who have knowledge.

Sometimes it is not beneficial at all to listen to other people. Some people just want to spread negativity. When something has not worked for the first time that is indication for those pessimists that it will not work ever. People like this are miserable company and you should try to avoid them by any means necessary. Unfortunately there are besserwissers like these in every organization. Just ignore them and keep your positivity.

However, it is good to get feedback from the people you trust and who are not as close to the project you are doing. They usually approach your problems from fresh angle, which provides unbiased point-of-view.

Although I did not know this cretin staggering outside our door, I had more informed stance of his situation. If he had listened to me, he would have avoided the embarrassing meeting with the police. I just wanted to sleep, I did not necessarily wanted him to end up in jail.

 3. Give deadlines to yourself.

The late Metallica bassist said to his parents, when he was 21 or so that he wanted to be professional musician. Instead of shooting this dream down, they gave him a deadline:

“OK, we’ll give you four years. We’ll pay for your rent and your food. But after that four years is over, if we don’t see some slow progress or moderate progress, if you’re just not going anyplace and its obvious you’re not going to make a living out of it, then you’re going to have to get a job and do something else. That’s as far as we’re going to support you. It should be known by then whether or not you’re going to make it”

He made it big. Same thing with your start-up or if you are fed up with your work. Give strict but realistic deadlines when things have to change or have moved. If things have not changed by that time, it is unlikely that they will ever change. People are good to make promises, but generally quite bad at keeping them.

If this drunk had given himself strict deadline of maybe 5 minutes, which is totally sufficient time to open a door, he would not had to have encounter with police and probably would not make one planner grumpy at his next day at work.

Admitting defeat is always hard, but sometimes it is the only way to grow.

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