I Almost Quit . . .
I was thinking recently about the days of writing my first book,Five Important Things, over 24 years ago. One topic in the book that comes closest to me is the subject this week. You see, I ALMOST QUIT. It wasn't just once or twice; there were several times I almost quit writing this first book.
One month into the process, I had a chapter written. In my enthusiasm and exuberance to share this exciting project with others, to show off my writing ability, I handed it to several close friends for their praises. The critiques came back. "The dialogue's a little slow." "It's kind of depressing." "This is just a rough draft, isn't it?" The input from those well-meaning remarks inspired me not to write another word for another three months. In reality, I had quit writing the book.
Soon the inquiries started from my three biggest fans: my wife and two sons. "How's the book going, Dad?" asked the boys. "Boy, I haven't seen you working on the book much lately," my wife would say. Then it occurred to me; what kind of example was I setting for those who were watching? Out came the laptop again, and the ideas started to come down on paper. As a family, we had fun with it. I would write late into the night and read it to them at the dinner table the next day. Their enthusiasm and belief inspired me to continue on. I was writing the book again.
Next came the period of, "what makes me think I can write a book?" I would open up the laptop and just sit. Instead of typing, I would think of a thousand reasons why I couldn't write a book. Soon I was spending less and less time writing . . . I had quit again.
When I would take time to review my list of lifetime goals, the one that said, "I have written a book" kept popping up. I realized that if I didn't open up the laptop and begin typing again, I might never reach this particular goal. I was now determined not to let myself down. This thought was enough to help me complete the first draft of the book.
Next came the hard part. Putting my thoughts on paper was an adventure; getting it published seemed like work. It was time to rewrite, edit, rewrite, find agents, put up with "no's," find a publisher, put up with more "no's," to the point of, "Is all of this really worth it?" Just before we were ready to put the draft into the file cabinet for good, one more call to a publisher was made who responded with, "This has tremendous potential." A lifetime goal of writing a book was finally going to be accomplished.
I'm sure glad I didn't quit!
- Jim Paluch
The 5th Important Thing - Don't Quit
Don't Quit . . . This was truly the toughest concept for me to write about in the book. Even today it continues to be one of the hardest things to speak on in seminars because it is beyond a technique or a skill. The ability to hold on and never give up is not something you can just do, like read a book, or exercise, or have a goal card. This Fifth Important Thing is really a character trait that some people are born with, some develop, and some maybe never grasp. Yet, even though it may be hard to teach, or difficult to make exciting in the seminar, it is always rewarding and exciting to see evidence of it in action. You may see it in a business owner overcoming obstacles to bring a business back from hard times. It may be evident in the inspiring story of a cancer survivor who just refused to give in. It may be found in the mom working to teach the alphabet to her youngest, or the Boston Red Sox battling back from three games down to win an AMERICAN LEAGUE pennant and then eventually the WORLD SERIES. . . . No matter the case, the hardest of critics can recognize and appreciate the tenacity of individuals who just DON'T QUIT.
The following are the Choices and Follow Through for "DON'T QUIT" that are found in the Five Important Things book. I am going to give you an "author's perspective" on what was on my mind as I wrote the concepts on this page. Again, I am giving this to you not to try and highlight any wisdom I might have, but to possibly inspire you to realize and appreciate your own wisdom as you consider these ideas.
After I have considered the alternatives and weighed the possibilities and move forward toward an accomplishment, I will commit to the effort needed to finish what I have begun. No matter the intent, large or small, I do not quit.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: I remember at the time asking myself, "Can a person accomplish everything they attempt to do?" You may disagree, but I believed at the time and still believe today, that we can't. There truly are things we cannot and should not do. That is why I put in the idea "considered the alternatives and weighed the possibilities." I have found it to be true that if any person puts some serious thought and planning into what they are about to attempt and then moves forward, they can and will stay the course to success. I remember thinking that DON'T QUIT is not a stubborn approach to life . . . it is more accurately an intelligent approach that is supported by planning and preparation to succeed.
THE FOLLOW THROUGH:
- I have spent every moment of my life consciously or unconsciously developing my character, which provides me the ability to carry out any good resolution long after the mood in which it was made leaves me.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: Somewhere along the way (I believe it was in a motivational tape by Cavette Roberts, the icon of motivational speakers) I heard my favorite definition of character: "The ability to carry out a good resolution long after the mood in which it was made has left you." I knew that somewhere in this quote I had found the foundation to accomplishment even when it is not convenient, glamorous or fun. I believe everything that happens to us shapes our character. It seems that a person who has to put an effort into something at the beginning is better at it in the end than the person who was the "natural." The fight to get it puts fight within us.
- I never allow one instant in time disguised as an insurmountable obstacle to rob me of the possible lifelong enjoyment that can come from overcoming that obstacle.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: I had begun to see this in the business world. At the time of writing Five Important Things, I had been consulting for about 8 years and had already had the opportunity to watch more than one person QUIT the company they were with. It always seemed to be over an incident that had happened . . . one moment in time. That is what caused me to start thinking about getting discouraged over one instant in time, making an incident seem bigger in our minds than it might actually be and then quitting as a result. I often wondered about some of those people I had seen QUIT. . . What role could they have had in that company if they would have only stuck it out, moved past the obstacle and succeeded? I wanted to challenge every reader to move past that instant in time.
- I regularly make a practice of attempting something new, because within this comes the confidence that helps me venture beyond the barriers of any setback along the way to a goal.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: With this thought, I wanted to give the readers something to do to remind them of the "DON'T QUIT" mindset and to somehow build the TENACITY MUSCLE needed to overcome the urge to quit. I thought of getting in the habit of trying something new, realizing that in trying something new we can learn that it is perfectly normal to fail, but not acceptable to quit. As long as we learn from the failure, then success or mastery will certainly be an outcome.
- I continually study the lives of those who have overcome great odds and succeeded, which inspires me to acquire the same intense desire and passion toward my own goals.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: This was true for me as well as the character in the book. I gained great confidence in reading about people who succeeded. I enjoyed examples such as Churchill, Lincoln, Michael Jordan, and Lucille Ball, all who had setbacks and challenges on their road to greatness. I learned from reading articles in SUCCESS magazine about the individual who put an ad in the Wall Street Journal and made millions selling one of the first pocket calculators. It has occurred to me lately, and I still have some learning to do on this, that there is enough success to go around for everyone. The more I learn that truth, the more I can appreciate and grow from others' success.
- I make a habit of looking past the obstacle toward the goal. Even though my concentration may be set on ways of overcoming the challenge, I know that on the other side of the obstacle is an incredible sensation having moved passed it and on toward the achievement.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: This follow-through step has become a fun and exciting one to illustrate in the seminars. I do it by getting participants to break through a board. The secret to breaking through a board, after you understand how to use your hand and position your stance, is to look beyond the board (the obstacle) and visualize your hand hitting something on the other side . . . In the case of the seminars I challenge the participant to aim for my nose. Fortunately, I have not been hit yet, and the success of breaking through a board is nearly 100%. I believe that same success rate could be experienced in overcoming life's obstacles if we could learn to look beyond them and then enjoy the excitement of looking back at the process of breaking through to success.
Every idea I may conceive and every aspiration I may desire are only thoughts and wishes without the conviction to follow through and achieve them, which has become a part of my inherent thought process. I know that my finest hours here on earth lie on the other side of the challenge where victory awaits patiently because I am always willing to try one more time.
AUTHOR'S THOUGHTS: At the time of writing this part of the book, I was intrigued with the thought, "Does success exist even if someone does not achieve it?" You know, sort of like . . . If a tree falls in the forest, will it make a noise if there is no one around to hear it? I began to picture success as this thing that waits for all of us, even patiently. But it waits on the other side of something we must overcome. That something could be our own self doubt, physical ability, education, relationships, or a zillion other things. When "it" is overcome, this truly becomes our greatest moment . . . . This idea may seem a little out there, but it is a great mindset that will almost pull you toward success and accomplishment if you allow it to.
Fight One More Round
"Fight one more round. When your feet are so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your opponent would crack you one in the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one more round. Remember that the person who always fights one more round is never whipped."
-James Corbett, Professional Boxer
Changing vs. Quitting
Although you never want to give up on yourself or any goal you've established, it's good to remember that life is unpredictable. Keeping your objectives and priorities intact, you will still need to be flexible and willing for thoughtful changes and detours along the way. Remember to set your goals in cement and your plans in sand.