On Quitting

I recently read a long blog post written by a writer who has been trying for years to achieve some measure of success with his writing. But now he’s calling it quits. I saw the link to the blog on Facebook, along with the person who linked it calling it “interesting and provocative.”

Really?

Since when is quitting interesting? Or even vaguely provocative?

If anything, quitting has become so entirely mainstreamed in our society that the concept of struggling to achieve success – or at the very least struggling to overcome obstacles – is almost universally panned. People quit all the time. “It’s too hard,” they whine. “I was abused by a pack of rabid water buffalo growing up and my psyche is too fragile to deal with challenges.” I know people who change as often as the wind blows. One day they’re rallying behind this cause, the next day another. Today they’re going to be a chef, the next day they’re going to study Sumerian. Today they buy a home in Des Moines, the next day they’re building a tree house in Lima. And all of these people that I know – the ones who view quitting as some sort of solution to dealing with strife, challenge, or obstacles – all have something in common:

They haven’t achieved shit.

Why? Because they lack the ability to set a goal and then channel the necessary energy and drive into a bullet of kinetic energy that blasts through obstacle after obstacle until they achieve what they set out to achieve in the first place. Instead, they drum up any number of excuses – they blame their past, they blame others, they blame factors beyond their control. They cede control of their universe to some unknown variable like “luck” or “it just wasn’t in the cards this time” or some other silliness. Instead of driving their own destiny forward – always inexorably forward with the determination of a juggernaut – they let go of the wheel and they end of spinning in circles wondering why things never work out for them.

The selection process for special operations soldiers is designed to find the men that will simply not stop – not quit – for anything. The guys running the selection process aren’t looking for gazelles who can sprint through the challenges with ease; they’re looking for the guys who fall down, get a face full of mud, dig deep, get back up, keep going, fall down again and again, reach their breaking point, and then dig deeper than they ever knew they were able to dig and come up with the mental and spiritual willpower to absolutely, positively NEVER FREAKIN’ QUIT. THOSE are the people you want coming in to a hijacked plane to rescue you. THOSE are the folks that we can count on to get things done – even in the worst and shittiest possible environments.

Taking charge of your personal destiny is a lot like specops. Life isn’t about being the gazelle, spritzing all over the grasslands, taking a nice nibble here and there and oh, my there’s a lovely little waterhole, hmmm?

It’s about being the hungry lion – always starving for a bite to eat, stalking some sun-parched savannah with your ribs showing through your pelt looking for even the slightest hint of an opportunity and then upon seeing that opportunity, changing it into a goal and feeling that adrenaline drip into your blood as your heart starts pounding and you start breathing faster – knowing that deep down in the very primal heart of your core you will absolutely not stop until you bring down that gazelle and tear into it or you’ll die trying.

That’s the mentality you need to be successful.

Hey, writing’s tough. So is being a neurosurgeon. So is being the number one guy through the door in a hostage situation.

If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Thankfully, we have this thing called Darwinism. And only the ones that want it bad enough will get to their goals.

Challenge and failure are always present in life. It’s what you do when faced with those challenges and obstacles that determines who you are.

Gazelle.

Lion.

Quitter.

Winner.

You can’t change your past, so why bother wasting time and energy wallowing in it?

Your future is before you.

Make it the one you want it to be.

“Be the ball, Danny. Be the ball…”

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