Saturday, July 27, 2013

Quitter!

I listened to an intriguing Freakonomics podcast last night. At the conclusion, host Stephen J. Dubner said the following (emphasis added):

"A quitter never wins and a winner never quits." In 1937, a self-help pundit named Napoleon Hill included that phrase in his very popular book Think and Grow Rich. Hill was inspired in part by the rags-to-riches industrialist Andrew Carnegie. These days the phrase is often attributed to Vince Lombardi, the legendarily tough football coach. What a lineage! And it does make a lot of sense, doesn't it? 

Of course it takes tremendous amounts of time and effort and, for lack of a more scientific word, stick-to-itiveness, to make any real progress in the world. But time and effort and even stick-to-itiveness are not in infinite supply. Remember the opportunity cost: every hour, every ounce of effort you spend here cannot be spent there. So let me counter Napoleon Hill's phrase with another one, certainly not as well known. It's something that Stella Adler, the great acting coach, used to say: Your choice is your talent. So choosing the right path, the right project, the right job or passion or religion — that's where the treasure lies; that's where the value lies. So if you realize that you've made a wrong choice — even if already you've sunk way too much cost into it — well, I've got one word to say to you, my friend. Quit.

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