In the beginning, you have beginners luck on your side.
You get lucky by running into someone who wants to promote your product, or a clever blog post you write takes off, or you add 50lbs to your bench-press in the first month back at the gym.
You can do no wrong, and the constant positive feedback from friends and family energizes you and makes doing the work easy.
Until...the next product run doesn't sell, or the next 100 blog posts go nowhere, or you plateau at that first month’s bench-press weight for the next 6 months.
In the second stage of instigating, the reality of the path you're on becomes clear. During the second stage of instigating, life will throw everything it’s got at you to get you to fold.
It wants to break you like Ivan wants to break Rocky:
The setbacks and failures during this period will make you question everything.
You recognize your own shortcomings and question your ability to progress.
You finally understand the distance you have to cover to get where you want to be and it's a longer and more confusing journey than you anticipated – and you question your ability to finish.
You thought your initial enthusiasm would get you through the bad days, but you didn't expect those lows to be quite so low – and you question whether you should just throw in the towel.
Here’s the real question: Do you quit and go back, or do you stick it out?
This isn't a rhetorical question.
There’s nothing that makes the latter nobler; learning to suffer is something the masses have excelled at for centuries, so what? And there is nothing that makes quitting, in and of itself, unvirtuous (quitting binge drinking, smoking meth, or beating your spouse are all things that many would agree are great things to quit)
The truth is this: there are some things worth quitting.
And sometimes we need to test and expand and explore a path before we realize it’s wrong.
Picasso never would have painted if he hadn't quit writing.
Abraham Lincoln never would have been president if he hadn't quit law.
Mark Zuckerberg never would have created Facebook if he hadn't quit developing Synapse.
Some of the most successful people in the world quit so they can focus on something else.
So if you need to quit, quit.
There is no shame in walking away from an endeavor if you realize you can’t be the best in the world at it.
"In a free market, we reward the exceptional." - Seth Godin [The Dip]
But remember this: anything worthwhile is difficult.
Anything worth doing is confusing, and uncertain, and brutal, and disheartening, and depressing, and painful, and (sometimes) bloody.
Anything worthy of your time and effort will make you (at times) want to pull your hair out, give up and walk away.
It's during this time, when you know you're doing something worthwhile, that the following advice is so applicable:
"when you reach the emotional quit point, grit your teeth and go one step further - one more attempt, one more day. Edison was right; in many cases one more step would either solve the problem or advance you enough to see the finish line, which would produce a second wind." - Tim Sanders [Today We Are Rich]
The point of quitting the journey you're on isn't to escape the journey itself - you can't run away from it - it's so that you commit to the right journey.
If you decide to quit, quit so that you can be the best in the world at something else.
What’s your journey? Thinking of quitting, or have you already quit to move on to something better? Share your comments below.
p.s. if you find this article intense, it’s because this stuff is mental warfare. Nobody should fight alone – subscribe to my newsletter and join the small but growing army of instigators (aka The Resistance). And remember: if you’re reading this, you are The Resistance.