Quitting = Losing
I saw a meme on Google recently that had a very powerful impact on me. This meme had a picture of a lion and maybe a less than a month old cab. The tiny little cab was looking up to the big ominous looking, huge-maned king of the jungle, while the king was looking softly downwards towards the little clue-less and innocent cat. The caption on the meme said, “I thought about quitting, but then noticed who was watching”. In other words, even though the lion felt like giving up at that particular moment, the fact that there was this little cat that was looking up to him expectantly made him reconsider is decision to give up.
Maybe the cab just wanted to know how to hunt but the lion was too tired to run after prey. Maybe the cab just wanted to know how to climb trees (yes some lions do climb trees) or maybe he wanted to know how to groom himself. Whatever the case, he wanted to learn from the best and if the best had given up and wasn’t willing to help him, then this would have broken the little cab’s heart and probably caused him to lose faith in the King of the Jungle. I am certain that the lion knew quitting would have made the cab really question his identity as a lion. In the end, I would like to believe that the King mustered all the necessary strength and courage he had within himself and did what he had to do, not for his sake but for that of the cab.
We are no different from the lion and the cab. Many are the times we face situations that are so tough that we think the best possible way out would be to give up. But is that always the case? I don’t think so. Personally I agree with whoever said “quitting is for losers”. Does that mean that winners don’t quit? No. It means they quit the thought of quitting and allow themselves the room to fail a million times before they get to that one opportunity that gives them that win, and then they become winners. What if they had opted to quit at some point maybe due to fatigue, or discouragement or burnout, or lack of motivation? Would they have reached that point of winning?
I think not. They keep trying and trying, sometimes through tears, other times through pain, other times through lots of insecurities and anxiety but in the end, through their persistence, they achieve what they had so much wanted to achieve. Sometimes all it takes to keep you going is to remember why you started doing what you are doing in the fast place. So the next time you think you want to give up, just take a minute to think about why you started whatever you are doing and why you have held on for so long. If your reasons are strong enough, then you won’t quit but you will look for the courage and strength from inside yourself that will push you to achieving your goal. I can tell you for free that it will not be easy, neither will it be immediate but with discipline, dedication, determination and the desire to succeed eventually you will.
I remember at the beginning of this year I had set a few goals for myself and was very excited because I believed I would achieve them. One of those goals was to cut down my weight to a certain comfortable number by Q2 of this year. That was in January. Fast forward to March, instead of cutting down weight I had picked up some additional Kgs somewhere along the way. I started out very strong though but somewhere along the way I lost my focus, I lost the psyche I had and opted to blame my busy schedule and my treadmill. Actually what happened is that my treadmill broke down and didn’t have the time to take it to the supplier for repairs, and so the fact that I couldn’t use it became my main excuse for not exercising. But was that really the reason? Is a treadmill the only thing I can use for exercises? Of course not. I just had my own other issues that were bogging me down and so I settled for the treadmill excuse and made myself believe I was right.
Fast forward to August. I discovered I could pick up the pieces of my goal and still achieve my target by the end of the year if I decide and determine to focus. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with a plan. Now that my treadmill isn’t working, and I have no time to enroll in a gym anyway, I had to look for a creative way to achieve my goal. Actually I realize I do not need the treadmill any more. God gave us all a free treadmill that doesn’t require any repairs, any oiling or any service and better still, it doesn’t need Tanesco (electricity). In fact, it is way interesting to run on this natural treadmill than it is on the man-made ones. So now what I do is drop off about 4Kms-5Kms from my residence and run all the way home.
I can tell you I just didn’t wake up one morning and started running. Heck no! Initially I used to walk-jog-walk-jog-walk-walk because I didn’t quite have the strength and lungs to run for even 1km consistently. In fact 1Km is stretching it. I used to jog for 300 meters and by that time I’d be panting like a fat canine. But that was then. Today, I can comfortably do 5kms of jogging (yes no more walking) without breaking my rhythm or speed and better still, I do it in less than 40 minutes. Of course I know I am not the next best marathoner from Kenya but today I can do what I couldn’t do for many months. And the best news to me is that now I have less than 5kgs to go to reach the target I had set for myself at the beginning of the year (3.2Kgs to go!)
Do you have a goal or a dream you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year but you have given up because of circumstances or situations that have presented themselves as major obstacles? I challenge you to go back to the drawing board and if you are really interested in achieving your goal, then you will find a way. Yes, it is possible if you purpose to do it no matter what the circumstances. Yes you can still achieve your goal before the end of 2015 no matter how impossible and out of reach it may look. All you have to do is look inside yourself and you will find the solution within you. 4 months is still enough time for you to achieve something substantial so get up and do what you need to do. It is not time to give up.
One thing I have noticed while I have been jogging back home is that I am always so determined and strong when I start jogging the fast few meters. I always move at a fast pace but by the time I’m getting to the second kilometer, suddenly I start seeing obstacles. Sometimes there will be mad drivers on the road and so I have to focus on the drivers instead of my jogging. Sometimes I see portholes and since by the time am going back home it is always dark, I have to be extra careful not to step into a pothole lest I sprain my ankle. By the time I’m getting closer to home, the dust on the dirt road we use gets to my eyes and sometimes my nose and causes me to slow down due to the discomfort. Of course all these are valid reasons to cause me to stop but I always encourage myself that just a few more meters and I’ll be home.
And so it is with life. You will get a lot of discouragements and obstacles just when your breakthrough is about to happen. You will want to quit because sometimes you feel like all the work you have put in is fruitless. I am here to tell you today that it is not time to quit yet. In fact do not even think of quitting. Instead, look for another solution to the challenge you are facing and keep trying until you get it right. Sometimes all it takes is for you to change your mindset – like I did. The treadmill broke but that hasn’t stopped me from jogging. I still do the same thing I used to do on the treadmill but on open grounds (which has even better results and is more relaxing and challenging). If what you are doing now is not working for you, then re-strategize and start all over again until you get it right! Don’t give up.
I have learned that giving up is not an option. In fact when you do, you live with the guilt of never seeing your vision or goal come to fruition and you live a life of regrets. You have the power in you to overcome and if you apply that power, then there will be no holding you back. Besides, what makes you think you were born a failure? Failure is not curved in stone. It is not permanent and if you ask me, failure is just a bus-stop in the journey of life. Get onto the next bus and go on to your designated destination.
Today I’m going to challenge your thinking by asking you this one question:
Do you want to tell me that out of the millions of sperms that fought to fertilize the egg that conceived you, the one sperm that won was a failure? That one sperm is proof enough that the odds were and still are in your favor. You were born a winner right from the beginning but you have let the circumstances surrounding you today preach to you otherwise. I challenge you today to get off from the ground, dust yourself off and face life like the winner you were born to be.
No matter what you are going through in your life today, no matter what your situation is, you cannot afford to quit. You are not a quitter. You were born to never quit.
Choose to say and live by the words of Carl Jung who said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
Wishing you all renewed focus and resolve and let’s meet at the finish line, where all winners converge.
PS: Article originally published in Tanzania's Guardian on Sunday on the 30th August, 2015, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".