…quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.” – W. C. Fields
For today’s quote we can thank the late W. C. Fields, an American comedian, actor, juggler and writer.
Today’s quote resonated with me because for better or worse, a defining characteristic of mine is that I sometimes go to ludicrously great lengths to accomplish my goals – even in cases where said goals are considered by peers, friends, and family to be improbable or impossible. This is not always a bad strategy: So far this year, I’ve pursued six such goals; in each case, most everyone around me insisted my target outcomes couldn’t be realized. But I have actually realized a whopping two of these six goals to date… which is about 33% more than I would have if I’d followed the naysayers advice to abandon ship.
My proclivity towards perseverance in the face of significant adversity is driven by an unsettling sense that most people spend their whole lives deciding what it is possible for them to do based on what has been done before. In fact, however, people are making history everyday. Sometimes such steps are big and sometimes they’re small, but one need only take note of the progress we’ve made in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, and medicine over the last century to realize that yesterday’s impossible becoming today’s possible is an inevitable product of life. As individuals we can choose to be governed by the possible of the present or not – but if not us someone else will always be pushing into new frontiers.
…Ergo, aware as I am of the fact that (with the right push) most people can exponentially grow their impact on society over the course of their lifetimes, it is very difficult for me to give up on someone or something without first exhausting every option. In HR this belief system has at times served me well… but it has also at times resulted in significant disappointment. To this day, whenever an employee that I’ve spent considerable time coaching doesn’t work out I take it a little too hard. And in such cases I’ve usually kept trying to help them turn the corner past the point that everyone else realized it probably wasn’t going to work out.
…When we try and try again, sometimes our faith is rewarded. More often, however, we only make fools of ourselves in our folly.
So as we get started this week, I want to encourage you to be an optimist – try and keep pushing past the point that everyone else around you would quit. Believe in yourself and others. Take risks.
…But after you’ve done all of these things, if the tide still hasn’t turned then don’t be afraid to walk away. After all, we can’t be successful all the time.