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On Giving Up Too Soon

by Vidya Sury September 11, 2012 27 comments
On giving up too soon Vidya Sury

“Don’t give up” is a mantra I grew up with and over the years, have reaped the benefits. Oh, I’ve certainly felt like quitting sometimes, but something within me would always tell me to go on.

My Mom always inspired me to hope.  Even when none was apparent. And when, in spite of slogging, things didn’t work out, she’d say it was because there was something much better in store. Easier said than done.

Funny how beliefs build up, right? But yes, there’s a lot to be said for perseverance and persistence – and of course, not giving up too soon.

There’s nothing worse than putting in a lot of effort, and when the moment of decision is a hair’s breadth away, giving up on the assumption that things will not work out. On the flip side, some people assume that things will work out – become over-confident and then, watch helplessly as things go out of their control. It happens to everyone at some stage in life. And becomes a huge learning point.

Last week, a friend of mine and I were reminiscing over old times. We used to be colleagues in one of the places I worked and continued to keep in touch. Every once in a while we call each other, plan to meet up  and enjoy a long long conversation on the phone before we get on with our day. During this particular call, we remembered another colleague and as old friends will, recalled incidents from that time. Certain things that happen are quite unforgettable and this was one of those.

Let me tell you what happened.

This was during my stint in the office automation industry. My colleague was a great guy. Smart. Successful. Too confident. He also assumed he was perfect – and stopped doing the little things sales people must do to maintain relations with a client.

There was this long term client on our roster. This meant the service engineers would visit regularly and the sales person would intervene only when it was necessary. Of course, we kept in touch with the purchase guys to keep track of new requirements. Now – this guy had been handling this client for a while. When a little birdie told us that a large requirement was coming up in that organization, he made the cursory visit and came back – saying there was no news about it yet.

The heat is on

The case hotted up after a few weeks and soon, it was negotiation time. By now, there were competitors in the fray since it was a large order. This guy was spending a lot of time on the account – and one could see he was fatigued. Then, negotiations were over. All that was left was for the client to actually issue the order. There were some internal issues on their side, non availability of the signing authority and so on…and somehow, the matter dragged.

This guy lost interest in the client slowly.

He was angry that he sweated so much over it… the order was nowhere in sight – and well, sales people have targets to meet. They can’t focus on just the one client. But this order would have not only helped him achieve his sales quota for the next two months, but would also be a big feather in his cap. He became desperate and started hanging around the client’s office. Days went by. Dejected, he got back to his usual beat.

Then one day, there was a courier from the client. This guy was so mad at them, he just picked it up and shoved it in his bag as he walked out of the office and forgot all about it. He thought, “Ugh. Now what. Why waste time opening that cover”. Two days later, the client called, wanting to speak with him. He wasn’t in the office. When he returned in the evening, he saw his list of phone calls and returned some…and this client’s was not one of them.

Another two days passed. Saturday arrived. We were sitting in the office – this guy was cleaning out his bag – and found the envelope, squashed at the bottom. Exasperated, joking, he opened it. It was the client’s order.

Can you imagine how he felt?

He had worked so long and hard at it…and at the crucial moment – lost hope – gave up. Being a Saturday, no damage control was possible and I think he spent the worst weekend in his life, waiting for Monday. On Monday morning, he went to the client’s office to find that the order had been issued to the competitor.

I tell you, the guy was in a rotten mood, naturally – and took the rest of the day off.  He was a broken man, literally. Soon after, he quit the organization. Much later, we heard he was no longer working in sales. In the industry it is pretty hard not to bump into each other – after all, we worked the same market.

So anyway – it was a big lesson, in a sense, to all of us. And quite a wake up call on assumptions.

It is…

Easy to give up.
Not so easy to hang on.
Easy to take things for granted
Not so easy to accept when things do not go the way we expected
Easy to let ego come in the way
Easy to be scared
Not so easy to overcome fear of failure
Not so easy to stay focused when that happens
Easy to take the easy way out and quit
Not so easy to look those obstacles straight in the eye, stick a finger on their collective nose and say “I will persist, no matter what”

We are stronger than we think. Our minds sometimes bring on the illusion that we “can’t”. I believe that we can when we think we can. We can be successful. We can be whatever we choose to believe because that belief will spur us into action. Or not. And that is the moral of this story.

The road may be tough
Hang in there. Persevere
Persist. Don’t Give Up

Question for you:

Have you ever experienced this sort of thing – where you’ve worked hard and then quit too soon?<
Were you able to do anything about it?

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Harleena Singh September 12, 2012 at 3:46 am

Loved the post Vidya!Your Mom seemed to be so much like mine- as we have exchanged many thoughts about them earlier too. :)Just like her, my Mom used to always say that keep trying till you succeed and if after you have tried your best and things don’t work out- then take it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be and there’s something better in the pipeline waiting for you. And this is exactly what I do and teach my kids.Giving up or quitting is the easiest thing we can do, but making things work and struggling through all odds is what takes courage, determination, and will power. You need to give yourself that push to move out of your comfort zone to make things work and keep trying.So, even though there have been many times when I feel like quitting too (because all of us have our low and down moments) – it’s always that little voice from within, which I feel is my Mom’s, that tells me to give it a another try – once more. And yes, when I do try, things happen. :)That was a wonderful story about your friend – the salesman and I can well imagine how he must have felt at the end and just wished he had not given up so soon. Thanks for sharing and making us realize that life is all about hanging on – not giving up. 🙂

Bill Dorman September 12, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Great post and way to tie the story together.

Yes to all of the above; the other danger is ‘assuming’ you know what the buyer is thinking and why or why not he is making a decision a certain way.

Sales can be very, very fickle; just like social. Some days things go your way and sometimes they don’t. The key is to not get too high or too low and you can’t take it personally. It always about ‘what have you done for me lately’ anyway, so move forward regardless, right?

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 7:57 am

Right, Bill! Survival is very hard, otherwise. Too many times, I’ve seen the “assumption” syndrome! Customer opens mouth to speak, and salesman second guesses them with the opposite of what the customer was going to say. So sad.

Thank you – always great to hear your thoughts!

Fran Sorin September 12, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Your post came along at exactly the right time. I’m in a stage of ‘beginner’s mind’ about the next phase of my life.
My ego keeps on yelling at me to go back to where I feel comfortable. But i am persisting- in spite of fear and confusion- to continue with my Passion Quest.

So thank you for your wise words. xxoo-Fran

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hugs, Fran. Ego is a hard taskmaster, but stretching makes us more flexible. I wish you all the best in everything you do – I know you’ll shine! Love, Vidya

Zephyr September 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

It is indeed very easy to quit because staying on and fighting sometimes seems beyond us. Moreover, when we feel beaten, we are in the grip of either anger, as in the case of your colleague or depression, when nothing looks worthwhile. Both are negative emotions and are not conducive for any constructive work.

And when nothing we do works, it means that it was destined to be so. Agree with your mom here that there must be something better in store 🙂

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

Yes, Zephyr, you are spot on – when people feel down, they don’t want to put in any effort. It is so easy to allow the moment to overtake us. Takes a lot of mental strength to look beyond, and objectively.

Thank you for your wonderful and valuable comment!

Emily Sovich September 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Wow. That’s a really powerful story, Vidya. And such an important lesson! I’m glad you shared it here.

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:34 am

Thank you, Emily. Some incidents just stick in the mind. Hugs!

Betsy at Zen Mama September 13, 2012 at 12:54 am

Thank you, Vidya, for your story and wise words. Everyone has had tough times like these. Sometimes it’s the failure that leads you in the right direction. I’m having some slow going with my next book and your lesson has made me want to stick with what I’m working on and just move the publishing date forward rather than rushing OR as in the case of your old employee friend, just give up.

Thanks for sharing!!

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

Hugs, Betsy. Funny how most of our learning happens through our own life events, or from watching what those close to us go through. In fact, I remembered this incident when I was on the verge of deciding to let something go. I didn’t, eventually – and am glad I didn’t 😀

All the best with you book!

Vishnu September 13, 2012 at 5:39 am

So inspirational! Why did he quit and move on? He could have celebrated and become even more successful.

The tricky thing about pursuing things and quitting is you never know when you’re on the cusp of getting a big order, achieving a dream, fulfilling a goal, etc. I think ultimately self-belief is the key. And persistence of course:)

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:38 am

You’re right, Vishnu. We’ll never know why he quit – it was only one incident and in sales, we win some, lose some. Over the ones we lose, there’s always something to learn. He should have persisted, because we were all there to support him. Sigh. Sometimes, something triggers a decision in people – and nothing can shake them out of it.

Galen Pearl September 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm

That was quite a story. The message of your post is the second time I’ve heard this recently. I’m wondering what it is I am about to give up on in my life. I can’t think of anything, but the fact that this message has come to me several times now makes me think I should pay close attention! I will be mindful.

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:40 am

🙂 Galen, that’s so interesting. Often, as I browse my blogroll, I find people, independent of each other, probably unaware of each other’s existence, write about the same topic. It seems like a message. 🙂

Hugs – wishing you only the happiest things!

Terri Sonoda September 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Excellent post!
“The road may be tough
Hang in there. Persevere
Persist. Don’t Give Up”
I really need to read that quote over and over again. It is so pertinent to my life right now.
Thank you Vidya

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:41 am

Thank you, Terri! You’re so sweet to say that! I am honored that you found it useful. Love you!

Cathy | Treatment Talk September 14, 2012 at 2:52 am

Hi Vidya,

So often we give up, right before we reach success. Love the quote – great message. Take care!

Vidya Sury September 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Thank you, Cathy. Yes, sometimes it is tough to recognize that we’re almost there! Hugs!

Unknown Mami September 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm

Oh no, that is just a bummer. There is no way I could have shoved that correspondence from the client in my bag and forgotten about it, it’s just not in my nature.

Vidya Sury October 1, 2012 at 8:42 am

Me neither, Claudya. I didn’t get over what he did for quite some time. It was so wrong. Sigh. I can’t even wait to open my mail once I take it out of my mailbox at the ground floor – I’ve finished reading it all by the time I reach home on the 2nd floor.

Pattu Raj September 15, 2012 at 7:58 am

Belief is the force driving us. But, most of the time we succumb to other pressures.

Wonderful post.

Vidya Sury September 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm

You’re right, Pattu. Life can often get in the way 🙂 Glad you’re here!

Evelyn Lim September 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Wow…one of your most inspiring post yet! I enjoyed the post tremendously. I feel encouraged to press on in what I am working on. Thanks, Vidya. You’re amazing!

Vidya Sury September 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Thank you, Evelyn! So glad you came by!

Nikky44 October 13, 2012 at 3:21 am

Very nice post!! I give up too soon and very easily when I’m the only one concerned with what I’m doing. As long as it involves someone else, as long as it is any benefit to others, I’m a stubborn person and keep trying.

Vidya Sury October 13, 2012 at 3:25 am

That’s because you are so generous and giving, Nikky! 🙂 Please be generous with yourself, too. Hugs! Good to see you!


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