Princess of Perseverance or Queen of Quitter?
It all started long ago when as a little girl I decided I had to do things perfectly. If I felt I couldn’t, well—then I had no choice but to quietly quit.
As I was growing up, I learned that there were several subtle ways to be a quitter:
1. Get Sick Quick
2. Procrastinate - It's just too late!
3. Quit while you’re ahead.
My family moved frequently and I seemed to always be starting a new school. Though a good student, I would sometimes find myself in a class that was doing things I had not learned to do yet. This happened when I moved while in the fifth grade. My first male teacher stood in front of the class and I had my first exposure to long division. The teacher sounded very austere and I felt horrified when I heard my name called. I slowly walked to the blackboard to work on a math problem. Standing in front of the whole class, my pink cheeks turned bright red. I got sick quick, went home, and refused to return to school. I quit. Of course, that only worked for a few days and soon I had to face my teacher. Seeing me, he quietly whispered, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” His extra help with long division had me soon feeling at home in my new classroom. Without my realizing it, he gave me my first lesson on empowerment.
While in high school, my father died of a heart attack, and I was moved from my small Oregon town, to live with my grandparents in Los Angeles. I did not want to go to the huge downtown High School. Then, remembering that “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” I resolved not to miss one day of school that year. Climbing out of my warm bed each day, I planted my feet firmly on the cold floor. After all, winners never quit. I successfully kept my resolve, and as a result I took an important step to becoming a more empowered teenager.
Another bad habit I perfected while growing up, was how to procrastinate---it’s just too, late! If I waited till the last minute to do something, then I had a reason why it was not a perfect job. Besides, I did the best work under pressure. Right? Actually,
“Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin.” -Victor Kiam
I can’t tell you how many tests I crammed for in high school and college. I did well, but I wonder how much better I could have done if I had been rested when I took the tests? I still wrestle with a desire to procrastinate, but understanding that it is just a way to avoid doing something important, helps. What could I do if I put 100% into my efforts?
“Quitting while you are ahead” is another opportunity assassin!
Here is an example of quitting while you are ahead: Wanting to write a good children’s story, I took a class from a professional writer. Amazed, I listened as an assignment I had turned in was read to the whole class. “I want you to send this story to a publisher,” the instructor concluded. I didn't send the story in. I quit while I was ahead, and before long my story disappeared. I sadly realized that I would never know if that story could have been published. The opportunity was lost.
Though I still whisper a frustrated “I quit!” occasionally, I know that I probably won’t. George E. Allen tells us that,
“People of mediocre ability sometimes achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most men succeed because the are determined to.”
As an adult, I believe in perseverance instead of quitting, and now I have accomplished things I never dreamed possible. Have I done things perfectly? No. But I have eagerly sat in classes and learned new things. Joyfully, stories and songs have come to me and I have written for people I care about. Most recently, I have stuck it out in my Toastmasters Club and I’m now writing my seventh speech. These efforts have brought into my life a wonderful group of friends to laugh and grow with. So, take my word for it. Quitting through getting sick, procrastinating, or just quitting while you are ahead, does not produce winners. Instead, I’ve decided to accept my mediocrity and to succeed with perseverance.
Gone is the “Queen of Quitters”.
I now call myself, “The Princess of Perseverance.”
-Linda Kay Burk