The first time you take a swing on a flying trapeze, you learn all actions happen at the peaks of the swing. This is where you’re weightless.
To come down to the net safely you want to release at the peak of the swing. When you are doing a trick, you gather the energy you’ve built up and release at the peak to fly up in the air higher before landing in the catcher’s hands or falling to the net.
If you let go of the bar before the peak of the swing, momentum will propel you forward. This may sound good — don’t we want momentum? — but it’s actually quite dangerous. This will send you crashing into the catcher or skidding across the net. Or you’ll have too much force if the catcher catches you, causing you to rip out of hands.
On the trapeze, you want to propel upward, not forward.
If you let go too late, gravity will pull you backwards.
Hold onto this piece of information; we’ll come back to it.
The Myth About Quitting
Quitting is often seen as a dirty word in the entrepreneurial world.
Success is rooted in persistence and discipline. We don’t quit. We aren’t quitters.
This mindset and identity can result in a lot of self-judgment, especially among people who often find themselves losing interest in a project and moving on.
There’s a negative stereotype of the person who starts projects but doesn’t complete them. We can’t finish. We don’t see things through. We are easily distracted or bored. That’s no way to generate success.
The belief that you must continue with everything you start is a trap that will keep you stuck.
Truth: Success Requires Quitting
The idea that successful people don’t quit is a myth.
The truth is that the most successful people quit things all the time.
Nature’s very first lesson is the cycle of creation and destruction. We cannot create something new without first destroying something that exists. Quitting is how we create space for new ideas and new projects.
The most successful people are willing to quit — to let go of projects and ideas, not because they are giving up or giving in, but because they understand that this is how to create space for something new.
Innovation requires destruction. If you’re a creator and innovator you must get comfortable with the skill of ending things and letting go.
For some people starting is the hardest part; most productivity advice is focused there. But for many people, starting is easy. It’s the skill of stopping that proves elusive.
What the “non-quitters” fail to understand is that ending things is a skill in its own right.
As Willie Nelson famously said,
You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
and know when to run
The Skill of Quitting
The skill of success is in knowing what to quit and when to quit it.
A prerequisite is the skill of introspection and self-honesty to know, in your heart, that you are ending a project to create space for something new and not as a form of escape because things got difficult or you hit a fear wall.
WHAT to Quit
Sometimes this looks like ending a project just when it appears to be gaining traction. Other times it looks like cannibalizing an existing business to bring to form a more powerful vision. This may mean letting go of a relationship, a home, a way of life that has become comfortable.
It almost always means letting go of expectations — both internal and external — about what you must do or who you must be. The most difficult thing to release is our current identity — who we believe we are. But this is the only way to step into who you are in your core.
Release and letting go is not always about ending something. Just as often it’s about shedding what’s in the way of what you truly desire.
WHEN to Quit
Sometimes we quit too early. We meet resistance or things get hard and we bail. That type of quitting does not lead to success.
Sometimes we quit too late. We overstay our time and get pulled backward, getting stuck in old cycles and patterns.
The proper timing to quit isn’t something you can measure in time units. It’s a knowing, a feeling.
When you swing on the flying trapeze, you know when you’re at the peak because the wind stops. You don’t see it. You feel it.
The most successful people know the secret revealed to anyone who has ever taken a swing on the flying trapeze:
You release at the peak.