Quitting is for Losers
“WINNERS NEVER QUIT AND QUITTERS NEVER WIN!”
If you ever played competitive sports as a child you may very well have heard this old axiom bellowed from across a field or gym by a coach looking to squeeze that little bit of “extra effort” from their players.
It’s easy to laugh it off, and imagine this as being just another motivational tool in a trainer’s repertoire, but that would be a lie.
The truth hurts, and the truth is this…
…that coach is right.
Whether it’s baseball, basketball, gymnastics, or cheer…quitters DON’T win…ever.
If you stop to think about this message…the wisdom it’s really trying to impart…it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a statement of fact.
“Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
If you quit the game, then by definition you cannot win the game. If you win the game, then by definition you did not quit the game.
So how does a simple statement of fact become a philosophy? How does it become a motivational tool? It’s just a statement of fact, right?
The answer lies deep within the psychology of the human condition. The human brain revels in accomplishment. And it revels in the external recognition received from others because of accomplishment. It’s both an internal high and an external validation when we achieve something…especially something big!
- The “Big Game.”
- The “Big Project.”
- The “Big Test.”
You see, the human psyche is geared to acknowledge the “big” accomplishments in life because, by and large, we are binary, black-and-white beings. We focus mostly on the major highs and major lows, so we try very hard to seek out the major “highs.”
- That problem at work we’ve been struggling and agonizing over becomes a catalyst of euphoria when we have that “eureka!” moment, and solve the issue.
- Those grueling workouts we subject ourselves to lead to joy when we accomplish our fitness goals.
- Those countless hours of practice propel us to incredible leaps forward in self-confidence and affirmation when we perform and succeed.
This is the human condition.
However, there’s another, darker component to the human condition, and it is one that deserves the spotlight, here:
It is an intrinsic component of the human condition to avoid hardship.
Think about it…
What has been the primal, driving force behind the human condition since time immemorial?
MAKE LIFE EASIER.
“Make Life Easier” has been the catalyst for every major innovation in our society since the beginning of time. Every technological advance, every societal advance, every philosophical advance, every medical advance…everything bends to this one, unyielding principle…that we Make. Life. Easier.
So there is a persistent urge to make life easier, but the human psyche thrives on major accomplishments?
WHAT AN INCONGRUITY!
We know that anything that’s worthwhile…truly worthwhile…usually takes a while. We know that the biggest achievements are born of the hardest work. These are immutable realities. Hard work pays off, anything worthwhile takes a while, and, as one of the United States’ founding fathers, Thomas Paine put it…
…but it’s within the very nature of our humanity to shy away from the hard work that’s necessary for achieving big things.
So, then, this becomes the classic struggle between “Knowing” and “Doing.”
As my Karate Grandmaster says…
“The biggest room in the world is the room for self-improvement, and the biggest space in the world is the space between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing.'”
We “Know” that we have to work hard to achieve, but that’s just an intellectual exercise. It’s the “DOING” that’s hard, because we have to force ourselves to put our minds, our conscious decisiveness, over our more base instincts, and that’s a tremendous challenge for anyone and everyone.
There’s an old proverb about the young Martial Arts student who comes to his Master and asks:
“Master? How does one remain a good person in the face of adversity?”
The Master smiles and tells the young student…
“There are two wolves at battle within us all. One wolf is good, kind, virtuous, friendly, and respectable. The other wolf is evil, hateful, spiteful, and angry. These wolves are opposites, and so must fight to claim the spirit of a man.”
The student ponders this answer, and, feeling unsatisfied, pursues the question further…
“But Master…which wolf will win?”
The Master simply says this:
“The one you feed!”
And therein lies the greatest secret to personal success and victory ever told.
If “Winners Never Quit,” and we want to be a “winner,” then the only possible direction to go is forward. We MUST move forward, because if we don’t, we’ve fulfilled the prophecy…we’re not winners. We quit. We lost. Game over.
If there’s any emotion more powerful than the gratification we enjoy by accomplishing something meaningful, it’s the regret we feel after giving up.
Ask yourself how many times you’ve heard someone express happiness about giving up on something meaningful.
Ask yourself how many times you’ve heard someone say they were grateful their parents didn’t make them continue doing (insert activity/sport/extra-curricular) as a child.
How many people regret that Mom & Dad didn’t make them continue piano lessons? As a child they were frustrated by the process, and hated the practice, but as an adult they only have regret that they know just enough to wish they knew more.
Speaking only for myself, I have never once met someone who said they were “happy” that they almost made Eagle Scout, or that they were “happy” that they almost earned their Gold Award in Girl Scouts. I have never met someone who regretted putting in the time and effort to earn their Black Belt…
…I have never once met someone who said they didn’t regret not achieving something big they set out to achieve.
On the other side, I’ve lost count of the hundreds of times I’ve spoken to kids, teens, and adults who said they were thankful someone pushed them, made them accountable, and required perseverance for them to achieve a goal, complete a major task, or accomplish something meaningful.
We need people to push us. KIDS need people to push them. Without external pressure it’s just far too easy to fall victim to our own worst vices…and leave the hard work on the table for someone else to pick up.
Hard Work Pays Off.
If we want the payoff, we have to do the hard work.
If we want our Kids to receive the payoff, we have to teach them to do the hard work.
In closing, remember this:
It’s human nature to avoid hardship, but without hardship we cannot achieve greatness.
So the next time you find yourself looking for an excuse to quit, remember…