Zig Ziglar is quoted as saying “Failure is the line of least persistence”.  I believe that is a challenging statement that rings of a great deal of truth.  But as my friend Bruce Hinson of Obedient Photography likes to say, “QUITTING is the line of least persistence”.  That’s a great observation, and one I’d like to explore briefly.

Is it a failure?

Is failure truly the line of least persistence?  I guess to answer that, we have to first answer “what is a failure?”  Is failure simply the inability to achieve a goal?  Is it a failure when an entity (such as a business, organization or relationship) ends?  Or, is it simply when you don’t get the results you expect?

In some cases, all of these can be answered “yes”.  But you can also argue that none of these is a failure in and of itself.

If you have a stretch goal to achieve 10% growth this year, and you achieve 9.8% instead, have you failed?  The answer, of course, is “it depends”.  Perhaps you had a huge natural disaster that impacted sales for three weeks.  That disaster caused you to come up just short.  But the team rallied hard to achieve what they did.  You were impressed with how they pulled together and overcame so many adversities.

Or what about when a company closes its doors.  Is that a failure?  Quite likely it is.  But perhaps the company had simply run its course.  Eventually, the logical decision was to sell its assets to a competitor and close up shop.  While this is most likely a failure, an argument can be made that sometimes it is simply part of the natural lifecycle of entities.

Is lack of persistence the primary cause of failure?

Is Zig Ziglar correct?  (Far be it for me to disagree with the great ZZ).  I believe he has a very valid point.  But there are other reasons.

Sometimes a business owner doesn’t understand his market.  (If he read my “Five Success Questions“, he may not have made this mistake).  I once worked with a business owner who was absolutely convinced that his product was going to revolutionize an industry.  He was so convinced that he wouldn’t take any advice from anyone outside his close circle of advisors.  When industry experts rebuffed his solution, he doubled down.  When his investors threatened him, he dug his heels in.  And when government regulators told him his solution wasn’t going to work, he nearly went ballistic.

A lack of persistence was not the problem with this particular business owner.  A lack of emotional intelligence for sure.  The inability to accept input from others (aka “being uncoachable”) was another problem.  But he did not suffer from a lack of persistence.

So, what about this “quitting” thing?

I believe my friend Bruce is really onto something. Quitting is the ultimate measure of failure.  Closing your business instead of fighting it out is quitting.  Giving up on that career you’ve dreamed of because the ladder has become too daunting is quitting.  Deciding to not live up to and pursue your God-given gifts is an example of quitting.

In her book entitled “Grit”, Angela Duckworth talks about NFL QB Steve Young.  Steve was an outstanding High School QB.  But he entered BYU as the 8th string QB on the team.  He was “tackle bait”.  Steve was miserable.  He wanted to go home.  He told his dad this and his dad replied “you can quit… but you can’t come home because I’m not going to live with a quitter”.  Steve toughed it out.  Years later as the backup to the great Joe Montana at San Francisco, he had similar thoughts.  He considered asking for a trade.  He had the talent to be the starter on many teams.  But he decided he would stay and learn from Montana.  He said it was brutally hard to do, “but I feared calling my dad.  I knew what he’d say: ‘Endure to the end, Steve'”.

Quitting = The Easy Way Out

Quitting is the ultimate “easy way out”.  When you decide to quit, you are saying that all of your investment (time, money, energy, etc.) is worth sacrificing for the “next best thing”.  Think about that for a moment.  If you start a business, you have financial obligations to make it work.  You knew that coming in.  There are also significant investments in time and energy.  You may have to learn a craft, develop a process or build a team.  All of these things take time.  They aren’t easy.  If they were, everyone would do it.

I have had clients talk to me about quitting.  I always ask them about what their dreams are, and what’s stopping them from getting there.  In some cases, they may have a bad business model.  If that’s the case, I encourage them to retool or reinvent the business model.  Don’t throw it away, just pivot and move ahead.

In other cases, I have seen business owners that have lost the passion of owning a business.  Many come into this thinking “hey, i”ll be my own boss”.  But they don’t really have an understanding of what that means.  And when they find themselves alone on a slow day in the middle of a slow week, they think to themselves, “this isn’t what I dreamed of”.

Recapture the Dream

If any of this sounds like you, then perhaps your dream has gotten off track.  Perhaps you don’t know where to go next.  Maybe you tried pivoting, but it is not working.  As a business coach, I work with you to rediscover your passion, create a realistic vision for the future, and build a plan that will get you there.  One of the best things we do as business coaches is to help our clients fulfill their dreams.  It’s not easy. And sometimes it involves things you don’t want to do.  But achieving your dream is worth it.  Recapture it today.  Talk to me about how to do this.