Survival of the Fittest in a Society of Quitters

04/26/2017 09:51 am ET
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Equipped with our helmets, elbow-pads, and training wheels, learning to ride a bicycle is oftentimes a person’s first memorable lesson in persistence. When we fall, we get back up. When we start to get the hang of it, our mentors let go and we navigate the cul-de-sac solo, tiny hands gripping those handlebars tight. And once we excel at this new talent, training accessories are dismantled and we’re encouraged to take our cycling skills to the next, two-wheeled level.

Our older selves, however? Not so determined to endure discomfort, discouragement, and the occasional roadblock in pursuit of our goals.

Youth is rich in optimism, eagerness, and ambition; after a good pep talk, we bounce back from those curbside tumbles and Band-Aid-covered injuries more determined than before. Over time, however, we seem to evolve into a species of quitters. Our bruised egos, altered schedules, and proneness to procrastination shake our commitment to that smaller waistline or higher commission check, ultimately distancing us from our aspirations.

Will you be one of the strong-willed few that survives?

Metamorphosis in (slow) motion

In April of last year, Beyoncé resurrected the old adage, “When life gives you lemons—make lemonade,” with the release of her celebrated visual album. Yet this winning philosophy is more commonly used as Instagram captions instead of the cornerstone of people’s characters.

America’s divorce rates paint a picture all too clear: when the going gets tough, the “quick-to-quit” get to quitting. Every day, millions of adults wave the white flag on their marriages, their jobs, their diets, and their commitments to colleagues in exchange for self-serving relief.

The truth is bittersweet: we’re addicted to instant gratification, we’re growing weary and lazy, and we don’t like change. When we don’t see desired results right away, or are asked to sacrifice quality “me time,” or when our expectations and reality don’t align, we don’t search for that silver lining or reach deep into the cabinet for sugar; we ditch the promises we swore we’d keep and look for a way out instead.

Commitment: there’s proof in the pudding

When the honeymoon phase is over, when your cholesterol levels are no longer in the red, or after you’ve run through your initial list of business leads, a “much deserved” break grows more and more alluringly attractive. I see this happen all the time in the direct selling industry: an entrepreneur gets rejected by a prospect, that rejection sucker-punches their posture, their excitement and enthusiasm settle to “subpar,” and voila—their 7-10 hours of weekly devotion to their business gets cut in half (or becomes obsolete).

This same slippery slope to resignation occurs every holiday season, when people post their New Year’s Resolutions on social media: they kick off with a bang but lose focus and willpower over time. You give less, and so you get less, and yet you continue to tell yourself “nothing has changed; I’m still going to get there.”

At this point in the game, the driving factors behind a person’s newly launched business, gym membership, or job application—usually money, health, family, or love—mutate into excuses, and become more prevalent. “My kids are upset I don't spend as much time with them anymore.” “I’ll follow up with that prospect tomorrow—my show is on.” “It's just too hard to stay away from what I enjoy most: PIZZA.”

Thus are the telltale signs that we’ve got a quitter on our hands.

Meant to live for so much more

I always tell our Independent Associates (or any entrepreneur I meet, for that matter): the transition from consistent commitment to provisional commitment can be a killer. Only those who stay hungry and devoted to “the hustle” day in and day out come out on top, because they’re determined to do what they need to do even after “the moment” has left them.

For direct sellers, that includes leaving that couch cushion empty to assist your downline on 3-way calls, staying up late to plan events and trainings, and missing out on cherished family time so that you can network, gain new leads, and grow your earnings potential. In other realms, it may call for running in the rain or making the extra effort in between marriage counseling sessions.

No matter the area of your life to which this concept applies, “What comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy” remains relevant and true. Abandoning responsibility is a guilty pleasure enjoyed by billions of people on this planet, but it is not a trait of the distinguished or elite.

What happened to being that “ride or die” team member everyone could count on? Where’s the romance, the fire? It all depends on how bad you want it. Don’t become prey to the temptation to quit or revert life “back to normal.” Take a step back and remember that kid who dried his or her own eyes, readjusted their helmet, and rode off to unchartered territory despite that stinging, bloody knee. You weren’t bred to be a quitter or raised to be a failure; you’re stronger and better equipped to thrive than you think.

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