By Greg Conderacci
“Never give up.” “Quitters never win; winners never quit.” “Pain is temporary. Glory lasts forever.”
We’ve all heard that stuff. And, if you’re like me, you hate to quit.
But sometimes, I have to remind myself: THIS IS JUST A BIKE RIDE. I try to put aside the machismo (my friends jokingly call it “Conderaccismo”) and pack it in, guilt free. I’m not suggesting that you quit when things become unpleasant or difficult. Quit when the calculus says that an activity is costing you more than the return on the investment – on the bike or off.
My most notorious example of this was in September 2009, riding The Endless Mountains 1200K in central Pennsylvania. Randy Mouri, a good friend, and I were running tied for second about 600 miles in. Hypothermic in a rainstorm, I fell and broke a rib when my shoe jammed in a pedal. I’ve broken ribs before and the pain wasn’t so bad, so I remounted and rode on. Randy was encouraging me to press on since we had endured some of the worst terrain the state had to offer. The accident did decrease my performance a bit though.
A Strange Sight in the Night
However, I began to wonder if I had done internal damage in the fall. In my reduced mental state, I suddenly thought that, if I was really hurt, I would urinate blood. So, imagine this: it’s the middle of the night in a driving rainstorm. There are two riders standing by the side of the road, lit only by their helmet lights. One is carefully watching the other pee.
I wasn’t bleeding. But, after another 20 miles or so, I wised up, quit and went to the hospital to get an X-ray — just to make sure. Looking back, with some sanity restored, I should have quit sooner.
“I should have quit sooner,” is also what most of my friends who left unhappy situations say, too.
Should You Have Quit Sooner?
Often, after my energy seminars, folks come up to me, tell me they’re miserable, and ask if they should quit.
“Yes,” I say. “Next question.”
“But what about never giving up, never quitting? What if you don’t have anything else lined up? What if you have a family, a dog and a mortgage? What if there are no other jobs? What if…”
Ben Franklin got it right: “Those who desire to give up freedom to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
Run Toward, Not Away
We’re not talking about quitting as in running away; we’re talking about quitting as in running toward. We’re not talking about giving up, we’re talking about getting started. Let’s say it for all those coaches who told you to “never quit”: “Is the halfback running away from the linebacker?” Yes…but the halfback is running toward the goal line. Often, it’s advisable to run if you want to score.
More than four decades ago, Professor Martin Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, performed a landmark experiment. He put dogs in cages and shocked them until they whimpered and whined in pain. The dogs tried to escape but they couldn’t. Eventually, they got used to the pain. Then, Seligman opened the doors to the cages and shocked the dogs again.
They did not leave. From the experiment, he coined the term “learned helplessness.” Know anybody whimpering in a cage with an open door?
Greg Conderacci is a marketing consultant and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, non-profit entrepreneur, and investment bank chief marketing officer. In Getting UP!, he brings you the same skills he teaches at a top graduate school and Fortune 500 companies. Lots of people promise better performance … Greg proves it. Using his energy techniques, in 2015 he rode a bicycle across America in just 18 days — averaging 150 miles a day.