We hear it all the time. Successful people are resilient. They take what life throws at them in stride, and keep getting up whenever they get knocked down. This is usually a very good thing. But sometimes it’s not. Being too resilient can be bad for you.
You’ve probably seen this in action before. A friend faces their challenges with grim determination. They soldier on in the face of long odds because they don’t want to give up and quit. We admire this quality in our friend.
But have you ever noticed that your friend seems to be in this situation an awful lot? Could it be that your friend is too resilient, and accustomed to slogging away at something they shouldn’t be?
How To Know When Being Resilient Is Bad For You
If you’re constantly picking yourself back up, you may need to ask yourself why you’re getting knocked down so much. Are you taking on things you shouldn’t? Are you challenging the status quo at every turn? Are you swimming upstream when there’s an easier way?
Sometimes we become so determined to carry our load to the finish line, that we don’t stop long enough to consider the load. Just ’cause you have a bag of rocks over your shoulder, doesn’t mean you should be hauling them around wherever you go.
Seth Godin wrote about this 10 years ago in his book The Dip. He used Vince Lombardi’s quote, “Winners never quit and quitters never win” as a starting point to examine when it makes sense to give up on something. He even challenged the great Lombardi’s philosophy by stating this – “Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
Whoa. You mean I can quit and still win?
According to Seth, The Dip is a point in your venture where your results are not matching your effort. Most of us are trained to be resilient at this point and keep on marching. Seth says you should stop and reassess. If you focus harder and apply more resources, will your results improve? Or are you venturing further into a Dead End?
A Dead End is a project that will not pay off, no matter how much effort and resources you put into it. Perhaps the market has shifted or become saturated. Maybe your competition has too much of an advantage for you to succeed. Or maybe you’re not the best at it.
At this point you’re better off quitting, shifting your energy to something more promising, and just walking away.
Nobody wants to face this kind of painful truth. It takes so much gumption and hope to launch something that we can’t help but tell ourselves that “failure is not an option.” But it is.
And sometimes it’s the best, most practical option.
So How Do You Know?
Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? Like Kenny Rogers said all those years ago, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.” Great advice, and not just for gamblers. Great advice for Manic Impressives.
We are famous for dreaming up lots of schemes and ventures. And famous for starting things we never finish. After awhile it can wear on you, not finishing what you start. You can start believing there’s some fatal flaw in you that’s keeping you from the finish line.
But it’s part of our nature to be great at the ideation and not the execution. Ideation is our strength. Execution, not so much.
Pushing through the Dip can lead you to great success. But if you’re facing a Dead End, the sooner you turn around the better. So here are a few good questions to ask yourself when you’re facing a Dip.
- Is my lack of results caused by my lack of effort?
- If so, can I give more to it? (And why the hell haven’t I?)
- If not, is this really in my wheelhouse and worth more effort?
- Do I really need to succeed at this, or could I be just as happy succeeding at something else?
- Am I persisting just because I’m too afraid to admit defeat?
A ‘no’ on the first four could indicate a Dead End. A ‘yes’ on the last one is all the permission you need to fold ’em and walk away. Or run.
There’s No Shame In Quitting
At least there shouldn’t be. If you’ve taken your hacks, it’s okay to accept your strikeout gracefully and walk back to the dugout. Life is a lot like baseball. You may not score today, and as long as you don’t beat yourself up too much about it, it’s okay. Because tomorrow there will be another opportunity to swing for the fences…