Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

What if succeeding is this simple?

What if succeeding is as simple as this: don’t give up? Then success belongs to the one who does not quit.

Simple. Right?

It would be simple if the desire to quit were not so strong.

photo by Steve Garner (creative commons)

photo by Steve Garner (creative commons)

 “Don’t give up! Don’t ever give up!” Jimmy Valvano

This week I went for a run. The Florida sky was overcast and the gulf coast breeze was cool. I decided to challenge myself. I set my watch for one hour—33% more than usual—and started stretching.

As my muscles groaned against the morning, I thought, “Maybe an hour is too long.”

It is amazing how quickly the desire to quit appears.

(How many projects have I quit, or downsized, before I even started?)

I resisted the urge and started running. The first 25 minutes I felt great, drawing strength from the waves crashing against the white sand. I was not simply running; I was a runner.

At the halfway point, my legs began to tighten and I could feel the pavement through my shoes. For a second time, I thought about quitting. Maybe 30 minutes is enough today.

Worst of all, I started thinking about running, which is a horrible thing to do while running. When my mind is lost on something else, I can run for miles without noticing. But when I think about running, every step is exhausting.

(How many projects have I stopped because of my over-sensitive self-awareness?)

This led to the second worst thing you can do while running—counting the steps until the next mile-marker. At 45 minutes, I almost quit. I rationalized the idea. It is my usual distance. At least I am running today. I don’t want to push myself too hard.

Then it struck me. All I have to do in order to succeed at my goal is to keep going. I don’t have to run fast. I don’t have to use a special technique. I just need to NOT QUIT.

 “Just keep swimming.” Dorie, Finding Nemo

What if we are complicating the path to success? What if we spend too much time talking about success and strategizing for success when the solution is as simple as “just keep swimming?”

Just keep writing.
Just keep trying.
Just keep leading.
Just keep parenting.
Just keep loving.
Just keep forgiving.
Just keep creating.
Just keep going.

You may not know the solution now, but keep going and you will eventually figure it out.
You may not be an experienced leader now, but keep failing and you will build up some wisdom.
You may not be a great writer now, but keep typing words and you will create something worth reading.
You may not be the kind of parent you want to be now, but keep trying and you might actually have something to offer others.

But, whatever you do, don’t quit. Quitting is the only way to guarantee failure. (you can tweet that)

I didn’t quit on my run. I pushed through the pain and finished the whole hour. As I caught my breath, dripping puddles of sweat, I wondered why I ever thought of stopping.

October 29, 1941, Winston Churchill addressed students of the Harrow School, where he had attended. Britain had just survived a vicious year of war. Churchill’s words were simple and clear. They have something to say to us about success.

 “The lesson is this: never give in, never give in, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense.”

 What do you do to keep going when you want to quit? (comment below)

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