It has been said that quitters never prosper, but with this I heartily disagree. Quitters can prosper, when what is left behind is that which is not aligned with the call of one’s heart. So much of the modern success literature teaches us that if we are to succeed, we need to do whatever it takes to break down the doors that stand between where we are and the destination that we want to reach.
Don’t get me wrong. Persistence and dedication are wonderful things to exhibit when a dream is being pursued. With dreams being those things that we desire with the deepest fiber of our being, it is the movement towards these things that allows us to experience joy, excitement and passion, as we go about creating a legacy that is unique and fulfilling.
But where this ‘never give in’ mentality becomes harmful, is when it is applied by those who know not who they are and what they want in life. Inevitably, when we do not know intrinsically who we are and what we want along the journey, we will become vulnerable to being taught of these things by external forces, such as society at large or by cultural conditioning. With the values of the tribe that animate those external forces not resonating with us at the deepest level, we are left to feel empty and unfulfilled, as we march to a drumbeat that is not our own. Driven by the ego to complete what we have started, we often find ourselves in a race that we don’t want to run. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
A number of years ago when I was living in London, I worked at a direct marketing company for a period of time. Participating in their Management Training Program, I was told in specific terms what I needed to do to reach the highest level of management. No problem, I thought. Starting the program, I was very excited with what I was doing and the results that I was achieving. Surrounded by very ambitious and similarly motivated people, I felt like a part of the family, and I enjoyed being in that environment very much.
But as time went on, and I learned what I needed to take out of the experience of being there and doing that, I felt a strong compulsion to move on. Having always been quite an introspective and intuitive person, this is what I allowed to guide me when there were important decisions to be made in my life. But this is what many within the company could not understand when I communicated my decision. Steeped in the view that only losers quit, and that I shouldn’t give up, the people who rebuked me could not move beyond the boundaries of their conditioning to understand where I was coming from. While it would have been easy to be hurt by this, ultimately I realised that it would have been impossible for them to discern my internal call to move into something else, which gave me a level of compassion towards their position.
Knowing what I must do, I moved on despite the good opinion of others, and while it was difficult to leave behind those who I considered to be friends, I never doubted the wisdom of my decision. Unfulfilled and restless within myself towards the end of my tenure, I understood that change was called for and, honouring this need, I moved closer to where my heart was calling me to be. Wanting me to engage in a writing sabbatical, it was this that I gave myself to, and while I had forgone some monetary benefits and relationships, it was nothing that I lost sleep over.
Given the choice, we should always honour the voice of our heart over the voice of the world. Calling us to be authentic and courageous, so does it call us to be alert and adaptable as we walk down the path of life. This journey we are on is not linear, but one with twists and turns, and opportunities that do not always present themselves conspicuously. To make the most of these opportunities, we must know ourselves to trust ourselves, and move in the direction that feels true and right for us. If others call this quitting, it should not detract from our mission to be all that we can be, and contributing to the world as only we can.