Browsing Category Courage

When “Never Give Up” is Bad Advice

Let’s be honest. There are times when you just need to quit.

That might be surprising coming from me because I love telling you to never give up. It’s a phrase that finds its way into many of my articles. And I love that.

Persistence is one of the most important attributes to finding and doing work worth doing. I won’t allow you to give up, put your head down, and surrender to your life and your work simply as it comes. My mission is to shake you awake to what really matters and to inspire to dig deeper, create riskier, speak up, show up, and never stop.

All of that is hard work. All of that takes dedication and vision.

This is all fine and well until I had the chance to interview Chris Guillebeau about his book The Happiness of Pursuit a few weeks ago. We had a great conversation, but something he said really stuck out to me.

I mentioned that Quests usually entail a fair amount of difficulty. How do you know when enough is enough and you should quit?

He replied, “I’m not a fan of saying “never give up,” because there are lots of times when you should give up.”

After which I had a moment of panic. I tell people never to give up all the time! I agree with Chris here, but what if I’m not clear enough about what to give up on and what not to?

So let’s explore the question of what you should and should not consider quitting when it comes to work worth doing…

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Make the Future

I never knew blood and sweat could be so rewarding.

Some years ago I directed a work-study program at a summer camp in Northern California. My team of high school guys and I would do maintenance and labor around the campus during the day and study and explore themes of identity and formation in the evening.

Of the many jobs we did, there was one that we got to do once a week— after the lawns had been cut and the trash collected. We got to clear blackberry bushes.

The property had lots of wild blackberries. Though they were tasty, they also had big thorns and spread fast and far. Our job was to clear a section of land so that it could be used for something else.

It was hard and sweaty work in the dry California heat. The thorns would inevitably leave us cut and scraped up by the end of the day.

Even though it was hard we all loved it for one simple reason…

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Giving Up: The One Thing I Won’t Let You Do

I will tell you that your work is bigger than your job.

I will tell you not to compare yourself to others.

I will tell you that what you have to create is your own and no one elses.

I will tell you to find kindness for where you have been— even if it’s not where you wished to go.

I will ask you to find places of impact and meaning.

I will ask you to tell your stories. I will challenge you to think about your work and your desire.

I will tell you that you have something great to create.

I will ask you to find the right people to support you along the way.

I will try to help you choose what to do next.

I will show you what’s been helpful for me to read.

I will help you pay attention to the stories you tell yourself and the words that you use.

I will ask you to make your art and to share it with the world.

I will do my best to help you stretch beyond your comfort zone.

I will help you let go of places that need to be let go of.

I will help you make plans and deal with fear and anxiety.

I will do my best to inspire you to dream big dreams and to courageously pursue them.

But there’s one thing that I cannot and will not do…

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One Year In

The Meaning Movement is now just over a year old.

This means that every week for the past year or more I have published an article on this blog. Most weeks I have published two. Some weeks it’s been three. I also write for other sites around the web (contact me if you’re interested).

In order to do this, I write almost every day. I’ve been writing almost every day for nearly two years.

Some days are better than others. Some days I hear stories from people who have been deeply moved and impacted by what I write. Other days I hear nothing. I often have to remind myself why this matters.

Why do I do this?

  • I write to know what I think and have to say. Writing helps me put language and structure to the things I think about. I write to practice finding words for what I believe to be true about people, work, hope, and impact.
  • I write to develop my ability to communicate. The more I write the more chance I have to practice structure and form.
  • And I write to connect people with my work (See my one-on-one work, speaking, or my first book which I’m currently writing.)

More than all of these things, I write to impact people. I write to make a difference.

This is a simple blog post. It has around 800 words. It’s nothing fancy. Writing, editing, formatting, publishing all took me two hours (not counting all the writing I do that never gets published).

But here’s why this blog post, and this blog, are important…

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You Need to Know How to Say No

There are different kinds of “no’s”.

The first is when you weigh the options and choose that something is not for you right now. You make the choice that you cannot do the project, take the opportunity, give the time, etc.

You say no because you choose to say no.

The second kind of no is a no out of necessity. You say no because you’ve already said too many yeses. You’d be spread too thin if you said yes, so you must say no.

There’s a third kind of no that comes much more quietly and is much more painful…

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