Grit or quit ?

Most entrepreneurs are taught that grit is a virtue - that you need to keep on going, no matter what obstacles you encounter. We are told that " Winners never Quit and Quitters never Win" ; and " When the Going gets Tough, the Tough get Going". The resilience of Steve Jobs and his ability to bounce back from failure are the stuff of entrepreneurial folklore.

However, the truth is more nuanced, and there's no point in repeatedly running into a brick wall. Sometimes, it's better to make a fresh start, rather than digging yourself deeper into the hole which you have created for yourself.

The truth is that you need a lot of maturity to step away from a startup in which you have invested many years of your life, and poured in money, blood, sweat and tears. This is partly because of a misplaced sense of ego - you are ashamed that the world will think of you as a failure. However, waiting too long to accept reality can be expensive, because of the opportunity cost this entails. Sometimes the courageous thing is to say, “I just can’t do this to myself anymore.”

You should be gritty, but there's no point in being suicidal. Don't get locked into trying to achieve an unattainable goal - sometimes you need to acknowledge that luck is not on your side. The most intelligent response is to let go and aim for a better goal - there's no shame in changing direction, as long as you have peace of mind that you gave it your best shot. When the odds are stacked against you, discretion is often the better part of valour . If you retreat and regroup, at least you can live on to fight another day !

Don't think of it as failing or giving up. You need to reframe your thinking - you are choosing to move on because circumstances have changed. You’re evolving, and are pursuing a new path that offers more opportunities. Please re-read the poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade - it will remind you that being pig-headed and stubborn can lead to disaster .

So how do you know when to grit or when to quit? How do you act with that grace and dignity? You need to turn both inside and outside for help in making the right decision. Meditation and mindfulness will help you to listen to your heart; and mentors and coaches can help you explore your options wisely.

As W C Fields pointed out, If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it. 

-By Dr. Aniruddha Malpani

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