There’s a Time for Tenacity and a Time for Letting Go

To hold on or to gracefully withdraw

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Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Grit. Determination. Resilience.

Rhetoric tells us that those most likely to make it big are those who refuse to quit — the ones who face into challenges and cling on in the pursuit of their goals like a hungry dog with a juicy bone.

There’s a lot to be said for being single-minded. We’re told that the path to great accomplishments will likely be strewn with obstacles to overcome and woe betide those whose instinct is to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble.

Failures yield the lessons that fine tune the craft. Practice makes perfect. Fortune favours the brave. And so it goes.

It’s not as simple as ploughing on until you’ve completed the 10,000 hours though. Success isn’t assured, nor is it guaranteed to be ever-lasting if it does come.

There may come a time when the best course of action is to make a dignified admission that this isn’t for us. To gracefully withdraw from the pursuit. To pull back, regroup and refocus. To quit.

All these are valid steps in their own way and at the right time.

Critical in determining which tactic to use comes down to having the self-awareness to see the situation for what it is, to be able to read the game. In the words of Kenny Rogers, you’ve got to “know when to hold ’em (and) know when to fold ‘em”.

Are you carrying on because you refuse to fail or because you refuse to acknowledge the slim odds of succeeding?

Are you driven to carry on by the sunk-costs of work you’ve already put in and the time and money invested?

Are resisting common sense and denying the extent and strength of factors outside of your control?

Are you ploughing on, ignoring the valid and reasonable feedback that the world is providing to you and your work?

Are you kidding yourself that everyone else has got it wrong?

You may be right when everyone and everything else is wrong — but beware the danger of looking for alternate explanations of your predicament rather than accepting what you know deep down to be true.

Is it time to admit with grace, dignity and honour that you got it wrong, or that you’ve given your best and that wasn’t enough this time? Maybe you were once relevant but your appeal has worn off. Maybe you were riding a lucky wave that has now come to an end?

Maybe it’s time to let someone else have a go and to divert your efforts and energies into something more befitting or fulfilling?

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