Is It True that Winners Never Quit?

Watching Tiger Woods win the 2019 Masters after 14 years of trouble, brought on both by his own choices and by physical impairments, made me think about the adage “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” (Vince Lombardi)We couldn’t hear about Woods’ playing without being reminded of the past decade plus. Would you say he’s a winner because he never quit, or did he actually have to quit in order to win?

I go with the latter: sometimes you have to quit in order to win. Tiger had to quit his destructive relationships; quit drinking and driving; quit pretending he’d be a physically fit 20-something forever; quit resting on his old laurels.

What Tiger didn’t quit was his goal, to win another Masters.

Ask These Questions

Are you a business owner who believes, both for yourself and your company, that winners never quit? When you’re on the verge of telling yourself or your team “Winners never quit” ask these questions:

  • Is making time for health, affirming relationships, learning new things…quitting?
  • Is mental house cleaning…quitting?
  • Is reassessing your goals…quitting?
  • Is reevaluating your current operations and making needed changes…quitting?
  • Is stopping doing because you’ve “always done them that way” …quitting?
  • Is resisting manipulation, harassment, or toxic behavior…quitting?
  • Is breaking up a dysfunctional partnership…quitting?

Winning after Quitting

One of my favorite clients had to quit a long-held belief in order to win. I’ve written about Mike, the owner of an automotive services company. In spite of hundreds and hundreds of loyal customers, he couldn’t break out of the revenue slump months of December – March. We worked hard to develop some creative ideas for true growth. I had utmost confidence these new practices would increase his revenue. There was one big “but.” In order to work, the front desk service rep had to implement them. And Mike had always, always believed that the front desk job was not important, and he didn’t want to spend the money to get a more skilled person. “That’s the way we’ve always done it, Susan, and it’s worked for more than 20 years.”

Three months after seeing no results from the new initiatives because the front desk person wasn’t implementing them, Mike agreed to hire a more-skilled person. We found the perfect fit. Yes, the compensation package was double the old one. And within two months, all the new practices were fully implemented, and he was seeing the impact in higher revenues. After one year the higher revenues had exceeded the higher cost 5 times.

Mike had to quit to be a winner. And many other Trivers Consulting Group clients have quit their old habits and ways of thinking (hourly billing, for example), broken up bad relationships, stopped wasting time on useless busyness, and been able to achieve their desired goals.

What are You Going to Quit in Order to Win?

I. One belief you must let go of—quit—is the belief that with enough hard work, never quitting, always pushing, pushing, pushing, you can do it all on your own. That somehow success is diminished if you achieve it with help. I’m amazed by the stubbornness of the DIY mentality. Tiger Woods certainly didn’t do it himself, either in his prime or in this most recent win.

II. Quit thinking and behaving as if your company can be all things to all people. Your own experience shows you that’s not the case, yet you keep obsessing over social media, content marketing, working to beat the competition. Become a winner by developing an extreme degree of focus on your current buyers and what you currently offer them. How can you improve, how can you add or subtract, how can you increase value for those people? I advise owners to “Think Inside the Box.” That’s where the riches are. Become a winner by quitting all extraneous marketing and instead deliver amazing value to your current buyers. They’ll become advocates on your behalf to others like themselves.

III. Quit using aphorisms or famous quotes instead of your own thinking. In addition to “winners never quit and quitters never win” banish “there is no try” (Yoda), “80 percent of success is showing up” (Woody Allen) and “pursue excellence in all you do.” (Willie Jolley).

  • Try is the only way to win. Try the first step, maximize results, try the next step, and so on. Woods tried for years before he won his first Master’s and he’s been trying to win again for the past 14 years.
  • Success requires the right effort, not just showing up. If you’re on the field but don’t know how to kick, bat or pass the ball, you’re not going to make much of a soccer, baseball or football player.
  • Pursuing excellence in all things can cause you to over-invest in unimportant things. Pursue worthwhile goals, for sure, but judge where excellence is truly required.

Winning: Make the Right Changes at the Right Times

Winners never quit working towards a goal. But they do quit paths or efforts that hinder their ability to reach the goal. They know the difference between working towards a goal and continuing to do things that will never get them there.

Although I wasn’t thinking about how counterproductive “winners never quit” is when I wrote my book Tinker, the idea of quitting things that don’t work and trying things that might work runs through it. If you’d like more support for quitting, read for yourself how tinkering works.

What is something you’re going to quit now, in order to be a winner? Share your ideas with me, 703-801-0345 or by email.

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