“How do I not give up when things become so unbearably difficult at my workplace?” This is a question that someone asked me a few days ago at a training programme that I was conducting.
It is not a rare question. I get asked this, often.
I suggested to the questioner that first, they should accept that there are times when you feel that you just need to “give-up”. The path of least resistance is always the easiest to adopt in life.
In business as well as in my personal life, I have, in the past, chosen to give up.
But when I have done so without clearly understanding why; without truly giving it a go or when I have capitulated under pressure, I have lived to regret the decision.
If I examine all my failures, it is clear to me that they have come because I gave up prematurely. I didn’t have the emotional and mental resources to withstand uncertainty, difficulties and pressure.
To be frank, I sometimes still “give-up” on things, people or businesses even today.
However, when I make that decision now, there is a huge difference in my mindset. I am very clear why I choose to withdraw from a situation or a person, and most importantly what I do next, is vital.
Many people give up, and say that the world is unfair, and that everything or everyone, or both, are always against them. This to me, is an absolute failure in learning.
If you can think and reflect on what happened through a process of introspection, and by being honest with yourself, you can determine what you could have, or should have done better. This on the hand is progress.
You can only discern if you did make the best choice under the circumstances you were in, if you do this self-examination.
When you realise what your role was, you can work on personal strategies that will ensure that you do not end up in a similar position again.
I also had another point of view to present to the participant who asked me the question about how not to quit when the going got tough.
Whenever I have been pursuing a goal that ultimately turned out to be really worthwhile, I inevitably reach a crossroad where I say things like; “this is so much harder than I expected…” or “I don’t know if I can do this…” or “…what was I thinking when I started on this…”; to myself
When I was younger and less experienced, these were the moments when I would throw the towel in.
As I have grown, I understand that when I hit that wall, I must not yield and surrender easily. Instead, I have to relentlessly plough through to achieve my goal.
And, if I am actually invested in the outcome of the pursuit, I can continue notwithstanding the pressure.
The first decision you have to make is one that only you can do for yourself. You have to adopt a mindset of not quitting.
Not giving up is just a mindset.
I say things like; “I will either find a way or make one” or “…every problem has a solution, and I have the self-belief to find it”.
It might sound clichéd and rudimentary, but a certain doggedness of belief is a fundamental pre-requisite to fight off any inclination to hastily give up.
Next, is that I choose to spend time with people who have this kind of attitude.
Whenever I find myself with someone who gives up easily, I reduce my contact with them. You can spot these types easily. They are the ones with a litany of excuses, all the time. Their life, according to them, is always fraught with unfairness and complications. And, their demeanour is often “troubled”.
In my life, I learn a lot by watching other people. And learning to persevere is no exception. I have colleagues and clients who have made it in life by simply being totally resolute.
In my immediate family, both my father and my wife are exemplars of this.
My father comes from a fairly humble background with nine siblings, and first-generation migrant father himself. Yet he tenaciously rose in the world of academia, reaching its apex when he was awarded a prestigious professorship.
My wife comes from a village in the European alps where the family patriarchs determined that she was to be a nurse, because as a woman, that was most suited for her.
She abhorred that notion and went on to become a doctor instead. Now, she lives on the other side of the planet, and is a widely respected international holistic veterinarian.
I may have been fortuitous to be born my father’s son, but I have actively sought out a life partner who I am so proud of, and who teaches me the meaning of not giving up.
So how do you not give up?
Change your mindset, and choose to hang out with the right people, who will inspire you.