Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


Are you good at giving up?

Do you think quitting keeps you sane, because carrying on will only confirm the cliché that was peddled a thousand times over when you were little?

You know the one, attributed to Albert Einstein, it goes: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Well now. There are people who think that saying is mad and you're just soft.

In the head, that is.

I've just accidentally caromed into a YouTube video narrated by Jesse Itzler. 

He tells the story of a Navy SEAL whom he cold-called and invited to live with him and his family for month.

That's slightly insane, I hear you mutter. I wouldn't disagree.

Then again, I fear every human being is at minimum three parts insane.

Itzler says he first met this unnamed Navy SEAL at a race. The SEAL was quite a large man and he ended up breaking all the little bones in his feet, but still finishing.

Well, the race was 100 miles long.

Itzler thought the SEAL could teach him a thing or two. About, perhaps, pain and insanity. So he asked the SEAL to live at his house for a while.

The minute he arrived, of course, the SEAL decided to test Itzler. That's just the way SEALs are.

The first test involved pull-ups.

Itzler failed constantly. He managed six, then fewer, then fewer still.

The SEAL, being a kind spirit, forced him to do 100. It took a long time, but he did it.

"It showed me that there's so much more that we're capable of than we think we are," says Itzler.

He says the SEAL told him: "When your mind is telling you you're done, you're really only 40 percent done."

So when I'm already done with this infernal election bloviating, it means I'm really only 40 percent done?

When I'm completely done with the boor at the bar who's slurring into his sake, I have a whole enormous reserve of tolerance I'm not yet tapping?

The thought is both uplifting and frightening.

Itzler says the SEAL's motto was: "If it doesn't suck, we don't do it."

Which shows deep determination, but a certain disrespect to the glories of opening a fine bottle of wine and savoring it slowly on a sun-filled balcony near dusk.

For the SEAL, though, it's about realizing where your comfort level is and completely ignoring it.

Sometimes it truly is hard to know whether something is worth doing.

Will the sake-slurping bar boor suddenly demonstrate intellectual enlightenment if I stick with him for another 20 minutes?

Or is the best thing to hop off my stool and find another perch in another bar?

One of the elements of giving up involves suddenly knowing that the thing you're pursuing isn't as valuable or exciting as you thought.

Or is that the highly intelligent way that we fool ourselves into giving up?