1. Giving up requires courage to admit what you’re doing isn’t working.
2. Giving up isn’t quitting. It’s a strategic decision that conserves resources for better use.
Writing the title for this blog caused my inner judge to push back. I heard, “Give up? Never!” followed by these hackneyed motivational quotes.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
And yes, Thomas Edison didn’t fail 10,000 times. Instead, he discovered 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.
Now that my Judge has gotten that of his chest, allow me to reframe the concept of giving up.
When What Used to Work Doesn’t Anymore
When reliable strategies no longer produce desired outcomes, we may feel a sense of betrayal. We become defensive looking for someone or thing to blame for the lack of results. After all, we think, it can’t be my fault because I’m doing what I’ve always done and its always worked. Having the humility to acknowledge our tried-and-true approaches aren’t working defuses the defense mechanism so we can access our creativity and problem-solving skills.
Remember, the point isn’t to prove that our approach is right. We want to produce desired results that achieve our goals. Giving up requires courage and humility to admit what you’re doing isn’t working even if it once did.
Conserve Valuable Resources
Let’s face it, we have limited amounts of time, energy, and money. When something isn’t working, giving up enables us to conserve valuable resources. Rather than waste them because of our stubborn refusal to admit we need a new approach, we save them until we’re ready to implement new strategies.
In this light, giving up is a strategic move that creates space for reflection while conserving resources for more effective use. We apply our energy in creative ways rather than quitting in frustration or wallowing in despair.
Giving Up & Getting Going
To use giving up strategically, I suggest the following steps.
1. Admit that what we are doing isn’t working and relinquish our need to be chief problem solver and hero. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How is my ego and need to be right preventing me from moving forward?”
2. Once you’ve taken off your superhero’s cape, assume the perspective of an explorer. In explore mode, we allow our curiosity to run wild. We pretend we’ve never encountered this situation before or know anything about it. We ask questions of ourselves, our supervisors, our subordinates, and our customers. Transitioning into this role is challenging especially if you are emotionally invested in being viewed as the expert or if you are caught in defensive mode blaming others for the lack of results. Be patient with yourself. You got this!
3. Next, we shift into discovery mode. We take a ‘what it?’ attitude with the information we collected. Like a chemist in a lab, combine ideas and approaches in new ways. Invite team members to join you. Instruct them to take turns by following each team member’s ‘what if’ proposition with ‘AND what if - ’. This prevents team members from rejecting ideas too soon.
4. Next, move into create mode. Select two or three of the most promising ideas from the discovery time and create strategies and actions steps. Repurpose resources to support your efforts.
5. Finally, implement. Implement the strategies you created adding feedback loops to monitor progress and adjust.
If you find yourself stuck and pressured, don’t quit. Give up! Shut down ineffective approaches and relinquish any associated guilt. Explore, discover, create, and implement action steps that move you toward your goals. I can feel the positive energy!
Let me know how I can help you move toward your dreams. Until then,