Persistence is power, but so is quitting. The axioms on never quitting, staying positive, and keeping going aren't because we think continuing guarantees success. These sayings come from our fear of things fading away: If we don't show up today, then we may miss our chance. But what if we miss the opportunity to do something better?
You should leave something behind today. Going into the New Year, the new week, or even the new day. You have more than you really need.
What matters is how you quit.
The Seinfeld rule
More than a decade ago, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David pulled the plug on the No. 1 show on television. Seinfeld may be the last truly big show that wasn't on a cable network.
Seinfeld told Oprah Winfrey why they decided to end it. He said it was just like being a standup comedian:
There's that moment when you are on stage -- and it takes years to learn it -- that this is the moment. And you just get off stage then and the audience gets excited. And another five minutes can bring them to a completely different place.
According to Winfrey, Seinfeld was offered $110 million to do the show for one more season.
He, and they, still left. It was time to go. And the Seinfeld legacy is still intact.
Make room for success
My co-founders and I had one of the most popular apps of the year -- Cuddlr. It had around a quarter million users. We were also three bootstrapping, novice entrepreneurs, with no outside help. We were tired. We also saw that the culture was shifting or, more to the point, we already made our cultural impact. There wasn't much more to do.
So we looked at each other one day and decided to wrap it up. A few weeks earlier, we had been on the cover of The Wall Street Journal.
Our act of winding down, though, opened up the door to a potential acquirer. And then another one. And yet another one. The fact that we wanted to move on actually allowed us to keep the app going and find a different kind of success: A healthy exit.
Your power of choice
If you quit with purpose and clarity, then you have a strong advantage: choice. We can keep slogging away at something because of pure inertia. Or we can quit something without actually quitting something, letting our lack of discipline fade away our potential.
Instead, choose to give up and let something go. As I shared in a previous column:
You don't quit when the going gets rough. You quit when you know you've invested more than you'll get out of it. You need clear, measurable metrics to know when to give up on your big idea or business.
Don't assume that you'll always do things the way you're doing them now. That's a false sense of security. With self-honesty comes power -- and the ability to serve whom you care about without being wedded to the approach.