I’m confident you have heard about the importance and value of perseverance. We’ve all seen quotes, like the following, all over people’s social media posts:
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
“The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success.” – David Sarnoff
But there is also a huge movement around just saying no and eliminating those things not serving you. This includes stepping away from things that aren’t working.
So, how do you know whether you should commit to moving forward in your perseverance or quit because it is never going to work? What is the difference between clinging to a mistake just because you are invested versus stopping right before a breakthrough?
Boy, that’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? I’m going to share 3 questions you can ask to help you make that decision. (Disclaimer: while these questions can be modified to work in a multitude of situations, they are best posed when evaluating marketing strategies/activities or long-term creative projects.)
1. What metric are you measuring?
The first question to ask is what metric are you measuring? If what you are measuring is moving in the right direction, then keep going. Even if it isn’t moving as fast as you would like. If it’s not moving in the right direction and there is no other benefit to the activity, then quit.
Most of this is metrics + common sense. Repeating the same activity over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. However, if you can tweak the activity to change the results, then persevere. I’ve heard it said that success in business is often a game of numbers and dogged persistence. That dogged persistence comes in the willingness to tweak your approach. Then if you still aren’t getting positive numbers, you need to walk away.
2. Why are you really doing it?
Investigating our motivation for our activity is another important step. Why are you really doing it? Do you have a newsletter because you see that everyone else in your industry has one or do you have a newsletter because it generates opt ins, fulfills your need for creativity, and keeps your community engaged? Are you doing webinars because that’s what everyone else in your industry is doing or because its how your target audience wants to be introduced to you and your services?
If you are doing it because everyone else is but it’s not working, it’s probably time to quit. If you are doing it because it’s appropriate for and desired by your audience, then tweak it and keep going.
3. What is the opportunity cost of staying the course?
We all have limited resources – time, money, patience, brain power, etc. There just isn’t enough to do absolutely everything and certainly not enough to waste any of it on something not working. The third question is to ask is the opportunity cost of staying the course. If the metrics aren’t moving in the right direction and if you aren’t doing it for the right reason, then what are you not able to do because you are sticking with this activity? Letting go of those things that aren’t working frees you up to add the things that might work. So, you aren’t really quitting, you are choosing to do something more effective.
No one wants to think of themselves as a quitter. No one wants to quit only to find out they were just one step away from their big breakthrough. But using some common sense and these three questions will help you determine when you should persevere or quit (or more accurately, when you should redirect your efforts). If you are an air conditioner salesman who is bound and determined to be top in your company but live in Alaska, perseverance is probably not going to make a difference in your success. However, asking these three questions and making the appropriate tweaks – like moving to another climate if you really love air conditioners or transitioning to heaters – could lead you to your breakthrough.