Tip of the Week
Tip: Know when to keep going and know when to quit!
When faced with the reality of a difficult situation, our greatest challenge can be in knowing when to keep going and when to “throw in the towel” and quit. We have all had to make that kind of decision at one time or another. In this Tip, I want to focus on that concept to see where it leads us and if you agree with my conclusion.
I grew up hearing the saying, “Winners never quit and quitters never win!” I was taught that difficult situations came into my life as a challenge to help me grow and be a better person. The older I get, the more I believe that is correct. I also remember hearing Zig Ziglar say, “I’m not going to give up, ease up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’m taken up!” That was the way he lived his life and he kept that promise until about a year ago when he was indeed “taken up” to a higher calling.
You may be familiar with the story from ancient literature of Caleb, who was one of the twelve spies sent in to check out the Promised Land. At the death of Moses, leadership was passed on to Joshua (also one of the twelve spies). When Joshua was parceling out the land, Caleb approached him with a request. At that time, Caleb was eighty years old and he wanted Joshua to give him a mountain that he could conquer and call his own. At eighty he was not ready to quit! He was not at all ready to retire!
I do not think the concept of retirement is healthy and I’ll tell you why. Research shows that the average person only lives eighteen months after retirement. I once read that Bear Bryant, the famous football coach of Alabama, only lived a few weeks after he coached his last game and retired. He had said that if he ever gave up coaching, he would be dead in six months. He was dead in less than six weeks! I think what happens is that people begin to talk to themselves and say things like, “I’m finished. I don’t have anything else to do. I am done. I can stop now.” Then, the body picks up on that internal dialogue and actually begins to shut down and bring things to an end. This is a hard concept, but it is one that is worthy of reaching out and grasping as we move ahead in life. Retirement no longer becomes the goal of life; involvement and activity do!
Are you familiar with the name Aron Ralston? His name is not a household name, but it probably should be. In 2003, he was mountain climbing in southeastern Utah. He had not told anyone where he was going on that particular day. As he was climbing, an 800 pound boulder rolled onto his arm and trapped him for five days and seven hours. During that difficult time, he ended up having to amputate his own right forearm with a dull multi-tool knife, in order to dislodge himself from the boulder that trapped him. If that weren’t bad enough, he had to rappel down a sixty-five foot cliff, using his one good arm, to the ground below and then hike eight miles in the hot sun to safety.
When I read that story, I thought, “Compared to that, I don’t believe I have ever had a real problem! Maybe I warmed up a couple of times, but to have a problem like that…who could withstand such a challenge?!” Evidently the answer is, Aron Ralston.
It would have been easy for him to give up and quit in those circumstances, but therein lies the key to this whole Tip. I do not think that as long as we are living there is ever a time to give up and quit. Regardless of what circumstances we are facing and the challenges which are ahead of us, the answer is to keep going.
I have never met Aron Ralston. I suppose that I would be humbled to even be in his presence. He must have something inside far greater than I understand at this point in my life. Facing a challenge in a relationship or in a business is nothing compared with a situation like that! However, I have to tell you, I long to have that kind of endurance and stamina in my own life.
In Miss Bailey’s 6th grade class, I learned a poem written by Frank L. Stanton that speaks to this point. It’s called Keep A-Goin’! The first stanza pretty much sums up what I’m talking about:
If you strike a thorn or rose,
If it hails, or if it snows,
‘Taint no use to sit an’ whine,
When the fish ain’t on yer line;
Bait yer hook an’ keep a-tryin’-
Now, I can hear some people saying, “Yes, but you don’t know about my certain set of circumstances. I felt like all I was doing was wasting my time and spinning my wheels and going nowhere.” That may be true. It could have been in a job, a vocation, a relationship, a church, or some other area of life. But, you will have to be the one who decides when it is time to quit and go a different direction or simply look at everything that is taking place as another chance to grow and become the person you were meant to be. We must all live with the tension between the ideal way of “keep going” versus the easy way out of, “I quit”! Again, only you can be the one to know the difference in those two choices.
So this week, take a step back and decide that it’s not time to throw in the towel; it’s too early to quit; and everything taking place in your life is designed to help you become all that you were meant to be. I find that is a much more worthy way to walk through life than having the mentality of someone who whines, sucks their thumb, and gives up every time they turn around. We’ve all known people like that and they never amount to anything. I’m not saying that to be unkind in any way, but you know it’s the truth!
We each get to decide what kind of person we want to be and that includes “keeping on keeping on” until the last breath in us departs. I guess you could say that at that time it is okay to quit. But, I hope that is not any time soon for you…or me!
Tip: Know when to keep going and know when to quit!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm