A fresh perspective on the pursuit and meaning of success.
Why quitting is sometimes a good move.
Business consultant and former professional poker player Duke mounts a persuasive argument that quitting is a “decision skill worth developing.” Although grit and perseverance are much praised and useful in many situations, sometimes, “persistence is not always the best decision, certainly not absent context. And context changes.” The author draws on many examples of individuals at crossroads in their lives or careers, confronting the decision to continue or walk away. She faced just such a decision when she was a graduate student in cognitive psychology, aspiring to a career in research and academia. A serious health issue derailed her progress, and she lost her fellowship. Needing to support herself until she could resume her studies, she took up poker and found she loved the game. “A poker table, it turns out, is a very good place to learn about the upside of quitting,” she discovered. “Optimal quitting might be the most important skill separating great players from amateurs.” Quitting, though, can be impeded by negative assumptions: that quitting is synonymous with losing; others will view us badly; the time and effort already spent were wasted; giving up some project will mean giving up one’s identity. Duke sets out some practical guidelines for overcoming those internal forces. “When you enter into a course of action,” for example, she suggests that you “create a set of kill criteria. This is a list of signals you might see in the future that would tell you it’s time to quit.” Continuing to pursue a goal, she reminds readers, means that other opportunities—more fulfilling and perhaps more exciting—will be neglected. “You simply don’t see them because you’re not looking for them,” writes Duke. When working toward any goal, “don’t just measure whether you hit the goal, ask what you have achieved and learned along the way.”A fresh perspective on the pursuit and meaning of success.