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Leadership Thought #324 – Never Give Up

I attended a youth soccer game and a professional hockey game this weekend and it was interesting to watch how both groups handled frustration and adversity.  As would be expected the kids had a much more difficult time with it.  With a few exceptions, they were quick to get down on themselves and hang their heads.   After a couple of unlucky plays they started to unravel and forget their training.  It became increasingly obvious that many of them just gave up on winning well before this should have been the case. The pros on the other hand kept plugging away and fighting through their unlucky breaks. Their hard work and resilience paid off.  Eventually things turned around for them and they won the game.

I’m not saying this just to state the obvious that professional athletes have more mental toughness than children, but instead to point out the importance of never giving up. Too many of us adults act like children when things don’t go our way and give up far too easily and lose our emotional bearings.  Instead of believing in our own capacity for emotional, mental, and physical resilience, we capitulate to the obstacles inevitably strewn in the path of life.

Some people may seem blessed with just about everything falling their way.  However, I contend you never fully appreciate another person’s level of struggle until you “walk a mile in their moccasins” as the famous Native American Indian saying states.  All of the successful people I know have challenges like everyone else.  They just refuse to give up on themselves or their dreams and keep moving forward.  Life does reward persistence.   These days it’s seemingly easier to crumble or withdraw when things get hard (just look around you), but who said life was supposed to be easy. 

Successful careers, marriages, and other relationships take work.  There is no easy route to happiness or accomplishment.  If you run from something every time it gets hard, you will inevitably confront a similar version of that same issue down the road.  In addition, when other struggles present themselves you will have created the bad habit of running away or giving up in the first place.  It’s no surprise that people who get divorced end up doing it more than once or that people unhappy with their careers end up job hopping with increased frequency or that people who bemoan their own loneliness or social disconnectedness continue to do things to sabotage their professional and personal relationships.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do agree that some relationships and situations are toxic and should be exited; however they are far fewer than many of us would like to believe.

The good news for the kids on the playing field this past Sunday is that they are not adults yet.  They still have time to grow up and develop their strength of character.  Hopefully they will have parents, teachers and coaches who create an environment where this is both expected and cultivated.  Society does not benefit from kids who are raised as victims and/or with low self-esteem.  Sporting events are so popular because they are a metaphor for life.  There will be winners and losers in almost all aspects of human existence.   The important thing to remember that even when you lose you can act like a winner.  To borrow from two quotes by Winston Churchill (someone who new alot about resiliency), “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” and “Never, never, never, never give up.”

2 Responses

  1. Well said.

    This was a huge challenge in my life, learning not to give up after a setback. Persistence has made all the difference.

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