Motivation And Mrs. Rumblefinger

By Bob Goldman

July 14, 2015 5 min read

You know my motto: Quit when you're ahead.

I also happen to believe that you should quit when you're behind. In fact, I think the best policy is to quit before you even start. This is a terrific idea, since it saves you the time and trouble of quitting later. It also makes it entirely possible that you will be able to quit before you are summarily fired.

Apparently, I am in the minority. Or so I intuited when LinkedIn insisted that I read a blog post in the Motivation section.

Now, personally, I never stray very far from the Kardashian section, but I felt I owed it to you, readers, to click on Kerri Schreiber's post, titled "Five Reasons Why You Should Never Give Up, Even When You Can't See the Finish Line."

"Sometimes we feel like we have nothing left to give," Schreiber writes, showing that despite her totally unjustifiable optimism, she does understand our working lives, "and no matter how hard we try, we keep hitting road blocks that seem to hold us back."

Schreiber thinks the right way to respond to such a situation would be to "keep a-goin'." I think that the way any rational person would respond is to "start a-runnin'," Why in the world would you not quit first and ask questions later? Here are the five reasons:

Reason No. 1 is "there's always someone working harder than you." This is, no question, 110 percent true. In fact, I would posit that at absolutely any moment in time, absolutely everybody is working harder than you.

For some reason, Schreiber thinks this fact could be motivational. "If you settle for good enough, that's all you will be and someone will surpass you." That would be fine, just as long as you surpass everyone to the front door when the 5 o'clock whistle blows and get to the Kit Kat Klub before your competition eats all the gluten-free Buffalo wings.

"Nobody's perfect" is reason No. 2, and you certainly are living proof that this indeed the case. Schreiber believes that "if we throw in the towel after the first mishap or the first time we hear people criticize how we handle ourselves, we are letting go of what might have been." Unfortunately, to acquire all the towels you'll need for throwing in, you'll have to knock over a Bed, Bath & Beyond. As for letting go of what might have been, that's a good thing. What might have been is not likely to be any better than what actually was, or what currently is, either one of which, I think you'll agree, stinks.

Reason No. 3 to not quit is because "success isn't rewarding if it's easy." Absolutely! Who wants pre-IPO stock options, a leased Maserati, or a Gulfstream G550 if they're easily achieved? And certainly, the fact that you manage to climb a mountain of sloth and cross a river of hostility to drag yourself into work five mornings a week represent overcoming a gigantic challenge. So mad props to you.

As Schreiber writes, "Behind every successful person, there is a story and a long-fought journey for him or her to get to where he or she is today." It's true. Unfortunately, there's also a story and a journey behind every bungler, loser and flop.

"Prove others wrong" is Reason No. 4 to avoid quitting. Certainly you have collected your share of negative reviews. Your current manager has been very hard on you, and so was Mrs. Rumplefinger, your kindergarten teacher. Schreiber suggests that "instead of complaining and sulking about others perceptions of us, make them choke on and spit up their words."

It's beautiful imagery, but I wouldn't be too quick to give up complaining and sulking. They happen to be your two best skills.

For Reason No. 5, Schreiber reminds us that "Rome wasn't built in a day." You could say the same about Frog Eye, Alabama, Dead Horse, Arkansas, and Fluffy Landing, Florida. [Really, I don't know what the big fuss about Rome is all about. The fried iguana is much better in Fluffy Landing.]

In other words, be patient. "No idea is worth throwing in the garbage," Schreiber concludes. Of course, there are also some ideas that are worth pulling out of the garbage, especially if you can sell them to your company's competitors. I don't think anyone would call that quitting, and even if you're arrested, prosecuted and sent to jail for theft, everyone will be proud of you. Especially Mrs. Rumplefinger.

Bob Goldman's column, "Work Daze," can be found at creators.com.

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