Deb Sofield

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Don’t Give Up…Unless You Should

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If you’re like me, you heard the phrase often repeated by our parents, that we should, “never, never, never, give up,” Quoting the great Winston Churchill. Well, although that sounds nice and good, the reality is, sometimes you need to give up and find something else, do something else or be something else, especially when the direction you’re going in is going nowhere. And the damage you are doing will last a lifetime, if you don’t stop.

So not to be disrespectful to my elders, let me rephrase that quote to say, Don’t give up…unless you should.

Why? Because, sometimes, the path you’re on is the wrong one, and the only thing to do is to walk it back and start over. If Robert Frost was right, that when the “two roads diverged in the yellow wood” and he took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference, then why are you on the main road going in the wrong direction?

I know, I spend week after week encouraging you to go and do and be all you can be–live your best life ever–and, friends, I believe that to my very core, that you can be amazed at life or you can have an amazing life–that choice is yours–but I am well aware that sometimes in life you might need to give up and go in another direction, so you will find the success, the satisfaction and security that you need to find for you and your family.

Friend, if you are on the wrong path–if you have made mistakes great or small that are doing damage, or if you are about to do something thoughtless, because you know you’re headed in the wrong direction–hear me, give up now! There is no shame in changing your mind, reviewing your options or simply saying that enough is enough and walk away. You have choices in life–make the right one.

The wrong path is always the wrong path, and it doesn’t change–the only thing that changes is you, and that’s not good.

It is hard to convince people that sometimes the best thing to do is to go against the conventional wisdom of Don’t give up…because it is not right for you, or it is not right for you at this time, and that is when you need to forge a new path that will provide other options.

I can remember as clear as day one of my favorite campaign stories of – what were we thinking. I was on a campaign with a friend, and one night we decided to go out and put up his 4×8 large campaign signs. Well, we were humming along with our auger digging great holes, and putting our signs into the ground with the greatest of ease, until we found the most perfect spot at a fork in the road. So out we jump, and pull our equipment to the curb and start to drill…until we hit rock. Now, I’m thinking we just need to go on down the road and find another great spot, but my candidate was thinking that we just needed to lean harder on the auger and drill through the rock. I can remember saying to him that this isn’t going to work, to which he replied that I needed to be tougher and keep working, because, as he liked to say, “we got this Deb.” (Guys say stuff like that you know.) Well, I just couldn’t see the wisdom of trying to crush rock for a campaign sign, and my friend didn’t see the wisdom of backing off, until we broke the auger drill and had to call it quits for the night.

As we were driving back to the campaign headquarters, it was quiet in the truck, and the reason we had to give up working early in the evening is because he lived by the phrase that you Don’t give up…and I live by the phrase that you Don’t give up…unless you should.

If you’re like me, you grew up hearing the phrase, “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” That’s what they told us on the basketball court, but in business and in life, sometimes quitting is the best thing you can do, if it interferes with your life, your goals, your family and friends.

By nature, I am not a quitter–it is just not in me–and I will say, as I have gotten older and I push through things that I should have left well enough alone, I have suffered the physical consequences. Believe it or not, I am not as young as I used to be, and pushing myself from conference to conference, because I love what I do and I love helping people…. but, if in the end I lose my voice, I lose my health, I lose me. Well, then what do I have left? Not much, and that’s when I think that maybe I should have given some of it up, so I can keep the rest of it.

As a society, we really push that no one should ever give up, and sometimes that should be the case, but I also think that sometimes that advice is simply the wrong advice, when someone is heading in the wrong direction.

I was reading an article by Marquita Herald, and she was talking about those who will tell you to never, ever give up on a goal, no matter what, because you just never know what tomorrow will bring. The more you’ve shared your goal with the world, the louder that cry will be, because, after all, you shared it in the first place, so others could cheer you on and keep you from quitting.The problem is, that, despite what all the success stories proclaim, there is always a chance that, regardless of your good intentions and how hard you work, you could pursue a path for your entire life without ever reaching the dream you desire, or, worse yet, the wrong dream for your life.

Now you may say, well, Deb, if they’re headed in the wrong direction, of course they know to give up and turn around. Friend, I wish that were true, but, due to the pressures of others, the pressure you put on yourself, the pressure of family responsibilities and social networks (that scrutinize every move) makes it hard to give up sometimes.

It is so much easier to go with the flow and keep your head down, so no one notices you, but is that a way a live? I don’t think so.

Sometimes I think your best bet is to quit and save yourself.

When I say that, some of you need to quit and save yourself or give up, you know what I’m talking about. You’re married and having an affair–you need to quit. You claim to be honest and you steal time, money and supplies from your boss–you need to quit. You criticize others for not living up to your standard, and, yet, in your spare time you’re watching things online and going to places you’d never step foot in in the light of day–you need to quit, because you’re going in the wrong direction.

If these are your private habits, then you need to quit now, because one day it will all come crashing down, and then your reputation, your family, your job will suffer, because you didn’t do the right thing and quit the things you know you should have. As odd as it sounds, I am not here to judge you. I’m just asking that you stop doing the wrong things in your life. Open the newspaper any day, and read about people who we all thought were one way, and then we found out (after they were arrested) that they were someone else.

When your life or your habits have landed you in such a terrible state of affairs, it is time to give up and start over. And that’s the other part of this message–just because you gave up on some things, doesn’t mean you can start over on new things. You can develop new healthy habits, you can create a new plan or path for the next part of your life; you can do whatever you put your mind to, as long as it is good for you and your family. It takes courage to admit you’re ready for a start-over, a do-over or a retake, but that courage will come when you make the decision, as difficult as it may be, to do the right thing.

I don’t believe that you need to make a habit out of quitting and starting over; if that’s the case, we have other issues to deal with, but, for some listening today, you just need to make the decision to forge a new path.

Let me remind you, Don’t give up…Unless you should.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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