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The classic quote goes, Winners never quit and quitters never win…. NOT! The truth is quite the opposite – winners always quit. Here’s a personal story about quitting with business implications…

Swoosh! The same sound I heard the last three shots as I catch the basketball after it glides through the net creating music to any shooters’ ears… swoosh.

“OK, you’re up 8–1”, I say to my teenage son as I gasp for air and try to remember if my son knows CPR. You know, just in case.

As he launches his next shot, I quickly reminisce about the days when I would go half-speed and purposefully miss shots to keep my little guy in the game, trying to preserve his sense of accomplishment. The sound of another swooosh yanks me back into reality: 9–1 now. Today I am wishing my robust competitor would repay me with the same mercy. After all doesn’t he realize he is still my “little buddy”….no such luck.

Then it hits me–not the basketball, but my limiting thinking. Sometimes winners need to know when to quit. No, not quit the game, but quit doing what’s not working. I had been using the same playing strategy on my changing (growing) opponent.

If Dr. Phil was watching me he no doubt would ask me, “So, Lee, how’s that working for you?”  Well obviously down 9–1, not very well.

So rather than drive to the basket and try to go over the outstretched arms of my son who’s looking at me eye to eye, I relied on his natural instincts to jump high. I stayed low and laid up a scoop shot underneath his arms. A few moves like that and I made the score respectable… and yes a victory for me. Well, let me redefine victory. It is being able to walk off the court unassisted. I will leave the victory based on the scoreboard to the mightier species of basketball players like my son.

As I gave my son a high five and walked off our driveway court (unassisted, let me remind you), I thought about how the inherently competitive nature of sports reveals business insights. Sometimes as if to say “Gee, I should have had a V-8!” (as my cognitive light bulb goes off).

I thought, how many times I have been working harder and harder in my business. The sense of frustration builds as there seems to be no correlation between effort and results (my business scoreboard). I am all about sticking with your plans long enough to win, but winners also know when to quit. They quit certain strategies and try new ones to get the results they want without quitting on their goals.

Our competition is always changing, and so are we. In fact, our biggest competitor is often our own potential and our desire for the status quo.

Today pretty good habits might prevent you from really great results tomorrow. 

Here are three keys to quitting so you can win.

  1. Don’t bask in the glory of victories gone by–your competition certainly isn’t.
  2. Old strengths might now be weaknesses, and taken-for-granted abilities might now be your greatest strength–experience, intuition, flexibility or even a few “trick shots” you have always had in your playbook.
  3. Know your competition, and know when to quit on old strategy so you can win.

Contrary to the old adage, winners always quit!

See sample pages from the book.