Quitting is more about WHO you are than WHERE you are.


Back in December, I wrote about the importance of starting well. In the comments, many people agreed with me, but they also pointed out the critical nature of continuing after you start. They were right. Like I said at the time, starting and finishing are the two covers of the book. The main part – the pages – represents the day-to-day labor needed to achieve your goal.

Unfortunately, in many ways starting is the easy part. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “The great majority of men are bundles of beginnings.”

What about you? Are you merely a starter? When the enthusiasm for a new idea fades, when the passion cools, when the odds against you increase and the results diminish, when it looks as if success is impossible, will you maintain your intensity and keep going? Are you tenacious?

Consider the fact that Admiral Robert Peary attempted to reach the North Pole seven times before he succeeded. Oscar Hammerstein produced five shows that were flops on Broadway before staging Oklahoma, which had a record-breaking run of 2,212 performances. Thomas Edison failed in his attempt to create a workable lightbulb 10,000 times before creating one that finally worked. To achieve your dream, you need to be able to keep going when others quit.

To develop tenacity, keep in mind that…

Quitting is more about who you are than where you are.

Everyone faces difficulty when working toward a dream. And if someone fails, he can make excuses for what went wrong, how the unexpected happened, how someone let him down, how circumstances worked against him.

But the reality is that the external things do not stop people. Those who achieve their dreams don’t have an easier path than those who do not. They just have a different internal attitude about the journey. The great artist Leonardo da Vinci once declared, “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed on a star does not change his mind.”

The one who achieves the dream sees the journey differently.

Instead of thinking, “Not enough people believe in me. I’ll never make it,” he says,

“My belief in myself is enough; I can make it.”

Instead of, “It’s taking too long to realize my dream,” she reminds herself,

“Dreams are realized one day at a time.”

Rather than, “Enough is enough! I’ve taken enough hits!” she declares,

“I’ve come too far to give up now.”

Instead of, “I don’t have the strength to hold onto my dream,” he tells himself,

“Hold on a little longer. The darkest hour comes just before the dawn.”

Novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe said, “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

And I love how H.E. Jensen expressed an achiever’s way of thinking: “The man who wins may have been counted out several times, but he didn’t hear the referee.” The only real guarantee for failure is to stop trying.

So when things go wrong, when the obstacles seem too great, when the difficulties get to be too much, when your dream seems to be impossibly far away, your job is to simply keep going. If you stop, it won’t be because of what happens around you. It will be because of what happens in you. Choose to see things differently. Success is probably closer than you think. Just keep moving forward.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. 1
    mike says:

    I was just feeling sorry for myself and thinking about resigning my church because its small we are broke and no one cares and no one helps me. Then I got this in my txt message and really lifted my spirits and changed my thinking.
    I can’t thank you enough John

  2. 2
    Guillermo Gómez Sántiz says:


    I have lived my life trying to plan, and I think I am real good starter, but I face difficulty when finishing, I am going through a real hard time in my relationship and sometimes I have thought in giving up, but your words have let me see that I have to keep doing my best in order to achieve my dream (share my life with her) and to be more careful about what happens inside me instead of outside. John, I have followed you since 5 years ago, I hope one day I will shake your hand.

  3. 3
    Michele-Rene says:

    *bundles of beginnings and
    [“Enough is enough! I’ve taken enough hits!” she declares]
    ★ Heyyy Dr. M★Xwell. ALLL The Years Prior To This One – NEVER WOULD I HAVE FALLEN INTO SUCH A CATEGORY (lessthe *BoB)! NEVERRR! But The [Above] Is ExactLy What Happened To Me This Year! I’m Glad To See This — Glad To Have Read This Writing… I AM AMAZED!. WOW! I’m Going To Shift SomeHow To [“I’ve come too far to give up now.”]

    What I’ve Learned: Live Long Enough – Take Enough Hits (Even Amongst Your WINS) and The Possibility Can/May Arise Where One May Stand Still Or Back Up Just To ProTecT Mind and Heart — Even From Self – or Big Dreams/the Fight Involved 4Them ComeTrue. {dangerous thinking}

    ★Come Time To ReNew My Mind … Thank You Dr. MAXwell!! I Really Do Appreciate YOU/TRUE! Thank You For Being A Fine Example of CONTINUALLY and FOREVER! Thanks A Lot! :-)
    “Leonardo da Vinci once declared, “Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to STERN RESOLVE. He who is fixed on a ★ does not change his mind.””

  4. 4
    susan drais says:

    Wow! What a message! This one has to be put aside for daily viewing. :-)

  5. 5
    myron rucker says:

    I love it. This is so true. Whenever I get down I will look at this post.

  6. 6
    Darren says:

    Great point about the importance of having internal strength. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. 7
    Etieno Etuk says:

    Thanks for this post, John. I love reading from you. You’re right “To achieve your dream, you need to be able to keep going when others quit.”


  8. 8
    Casey says:

    There are sometimes when it actually IS necessary to QUIT to find your true purpose and passion. The wisdom come in knowing when it’s time to QUIT. That is between you and God. There is a season for everything, even quitting. You can’t be an irresponsible Quitter, and you can’t QUIT something just because it’s too hard, or things are falling into place quickly enough, or whatever. BUT, if you are continuing to do something ONLY because you’re afraid to QUIT, that is not a good reason. As you journey through life, keep your eyes on your big vision, your big purpose, but understand that along your path, you will have opportunities to tweak, re-invent, and yes…even QUIT…as you move closer and closer to your vision. And, that’s OK! :)
    ~Casey, QuitToGrowRich.com

  9. 9
    Juniea says:

    John, your ability to hear from the Almighty, God & publish The response is so wonderful. My husband & I faced seem 2 be going through a rough patch in our ministry..your encouraging words 2day were right on time. The examples r amazing. I really like your style of writing…speaking to both male & female in your italizied key points. Bless you & thank u!!!

  10. 10
    Cynthia says:

    Thank you John for cheering us on today.

    Your voice was like that of a coach that is running along-side of me while I run my race. Today I choose, to never, never, never give up. :o)

  11. 11
    Ekolere francis says:

    Am young nigerian and i have been following your words and quotes since came across it at the sea shore,a single page of focus discussion.i read through it and discovered how much i have resign myself to faith.and quit school to become a fisherman due to financial constraints.then i realize i have to choose because i was everywhere.i decide to choose education and ever since my senior certificate i have been applying to universities with no success.the constant digestion of books kept me on my feet.i try as much to get my hands on the once i could.and i just gain admission to study medicine in ukraine,even with low tuition of $5500 i could still not afford to study as a son of a poor fish trader.but my aim here i finally have to thank you for pushing me this far.even as i quit now i learn something that destiny is not meant to be waited for.but my dream is too big that i need to step back to see the top.thank you john

  12. 12
    Sharon Teklu says:

    Thank you Mr. Maxwell, such a great reminder, I will read it when ever I need a boost. God Bless! S. Teklu

  13. 13
    Mark Dawes says:

    Excellent post John. Inspiring and motivational.

    Mark Dawes

  14. 14
    Rahul says:


  15. 15
    Gill says:

    How does this hang with Henry Cloud’s necessary Endings? I hung in far longer than I should have as a result of upbeat general exhortation and application of majority rule principles and it has cost me dear. What we really need is the discernment to know when it is absolutely the right thing to quit. Cutting our losses is terrifically painful but having them forced on us is worse

  16. 16
    Casey says:

    I agree, Gill!! :)


    It’s all about discernment and knowing it’s ok to QUIT when it’s necessary.

  17. 17
    Jason Boyd says:

    Brandon Roy is a perfect example of staying the course through adversity… his effort in game 4 over Dallas was improbable, but somebody forgot to tell him:


    Love you work, John… keep it coming!

  18. 18
    Yvonne Green says:

    Thanks! Change is inevitable so embrace it. Pastor Rick Warren has a quote “Successful people and unsuccessful people have the same doubts, same fears — successful people don’t focus on it they just do it.”

  19. 19
    ahshuet says:

    Hi John!
    Thank you for sharing the inspiring article..it’s the best article I’ve read this year and hope more to come… ;)

  20. 20

    Harriet Beecher Stowa summed it up for me! Thanks for the encouragement to keep moving forward everyday. This WASN’T my dream… that, has yet to come to fruition. Fact is being the owner and “boss” of a heating and air company is just where I am for now. You’re right, and I don’t think it was by accident when I read, “SHE SAYS, I’ve come too far to quit now!!!!”
    That was just what I needed to hear as I make decisions so far beyond my human wisdom EVERYDAY, as God keeps the doors open for His purpose and plan, not mine. Thanks.

  21. 21
    david williams says:

    As I lay in bed your words ring so true to me. Thank you mr maxwell I look forward to hearing you live in freedom hall this weekend. You have given me many lessons, words and thoughts to pass on to my son. You have changed my life along with my families. Thank you..

  22. 22
    Aja says:

    This exactly what I needed to read for the season I’m in.

  23. 23
    Danny Glover says:

    John, thank you for the encouraging reminder. It reminded me of the coach’s words – “winners never quit and quitters never win!”

    The daily grind is the stuff success is made of – that will be my motto this week.

  24. 24
    Gabe Arnold says:

    Thanks for the encouragement John. Well timed for me.

  25. 25
    Donna Campbell says:

    Hi John

    I was doing some research on the internet and your name came up. I was looking at the top leadership presenters/ coach in the world as I am in the throws of deciding whether to continue on the threadmill at work in a job that never pays the bills or shift fully over into my small budding training company here in the Caribbean. So my thoughts on this Easter weekend are – quit and take a leap of faith to grow the company.

    So I was doing some reearch regarding a conference idea I have for the region’s leadership. There was your name – yes at the top of the leadership pile – I was inspired immediately without even reading anything first – because of your connection with God. I am filled and sometimes overwhelmed with all these ideas that come from almost no where – but I believe from God because I could not even think up such great things all by myself(lol)

    So for me this discussion is wonderful and bitter sweet because it forces me to consider my options carefully and understand when to quit from something that doesn’t build my spirit or engages my possibilities but before I do – since reading your discussion – I will quit only when I have reached that place inside of me – a place of excellence, a place of confidence, a place of hope in me and not in the circumstances or people around me.

    Thanks a million

  26. 26

    Great stuff. One of my former coaches said, “A loser is not someone who falls down, but someone who falls down and stays down.” Appreciate the encouragement to keep getting up.

  27. 27
    Marsha says:

    What an uplifting and inspiring article! I was just given a punch to the jaw by my company but this article is helping me keep up my spirits. I love what I do and will continue to hold my head up high. I plan to post this in my office for daily encouragement.

  28. 28
    Joe says:

    Thanks John,

    Just what I needed today. I have been working on a dream for 18 years, taking steps and then not seeing results I would like; I know that a BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Dresm) has a BHA Gap and I am unwilling to quit. Thank you for giving me a spark of hope today. As Zig Ziglar often says in meetngs, “the world is more devoid of encouragement today than any time in history, be an agent of hope.” That’s what you are John!

    Acts 27:25

  29. 29
    Johnnie S. says:

    Your inspiration is like a gift of song. One song but yet, it’s message speaks to so many. Giving inspiration, direction and incouragement. Thank you for being the Warrior that you are.

  30. 30
    Walt Campbell says:

    Small correction: “H. E. Jensen” should be H. E. Jansen. I know this only because I liked the quote so much in your posting that I did a bit of Web research. Wonderful sentiment, wonderful article – thanks!

  31. 31
    Arindam Datta says:

    This article is a good motivator than a reality…………….it is quite obvious in this competitive world…….most people are having positive mind and approach……..few get success and few not….it is bound to happen

  32. 32
    Anne Evans says:

    Thank you and God bless you for you being an incrdible ENCOURAGER to all of us who read your posts, books and listen to your “minute with Maxwell”! I always feel so encouraged by your wisdom which you so generously share with us. This is a great reminder; one that will sustain us in the good and not so good times. Thank you.

  33. 33
    Floyd says:


  34. 34
    Angie says:

    Though the “power of positive thinking” does accomplish much, sometimes, there are times when one must “cut losses”, or know when not to be stubbornly resistant to what is obvious. The individual must choose to change, accomplish or seek after a goal, another cannot make that happen.

    Character is more than tenacity, because tenacity when it involves others, is bull-headed stubborness, blindness, arrogance, etc. So, there is more to character than “finishing”.

    Character can be just as much about learning about how others behave and what they believe and whether that is what is important and of value to you. Are these the kinds of people you want to journey with?

    Each person must answer these questions for themselves, as the answers are about values, and commitments. Life does not stay static, so flexibility is also important in living life to the fullest. Priorities for oneself and another do change and it is the wise that can acommadate those changes in one’s life.

    And maybe that is the problem, most of us think that everyone should have the same temperament and personalities; energy level, “vision”, and focus. Many times those that “see so clearly” what another “should” be doing are really projecting their own values. This is really not fair or just, because it makes a judgment based on one’s personal commitments of value. One must be tolerant enough to allow another, differences of opinion.

  35. 35

    Great post John, here is another quote that goes along with this:

    “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~Thomas A. Edison


  36. 36
    BobbyG says:

    Great post! Admittedly, I’m an experienced beginner… maybe even seasoned. And most recently, the beginning again is been especially difficult.

    But… there’s always hope.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement. :)

  37. 37

    Thanks so much for all of your shared insight and wisdom. Leading a whale to turn seems impossible, but turning a school of sardines is possible by building the leaders…

    Your post reminds me that the leaders I look up to have times of difficulties… but success is right around the corner.


    Kind regards,
    Tracy Watanabe

  38. 38
    bonnie ciparro says:

    if you quit…. how how will u ever know great or succesfull you can become!! quitting is not an option ;o) thanks mr. maxwell for all your encouraging positive words >>>>>

  39. 39
    Tyminewchi says:

    Your messages always seem to arrive on time. I am so grateful for having these little nuggets of wisdom from you and often appreciate reading the readers posts. I look forward to the Leadercast next week and being encouraged and filled to capacity by so many beautiful minds and Godly-inspired people.

    Thank you.

  40. 40
    Rhonda Stanford says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I am a full time wife and mother. I have supported and cheered everybody else on to achieve their dreams. After doing all of that and graduating HS 30 years ago, and this May I am crossing the stage to be honored to recieve MY AA degree. For me, it was facing a fear at a time and a class at a time. Every step is a step closer to our dream.

  41. 41

    […] I pondered that, I came back to my office and read this post from John Maxwell about quitting.  I think it’s worth your time to […]

  42. 42
    Lauren says:

    Perhaps one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment I ever enjoyed came in returning to something I’d quit…and finishing it with finesee. I dropped out of college early in life and it continued to vex me as I moved into parenting. It was truly my biggest regreat and left me with a sense of guilt. The wonderful thing about quitting is that sometimes we’re blessed to return to the project and pick it up and run the race a little harder. I was a slow finisher…but I WAS a finisher. A Masters degree helped me to understand I wasn’t a quitter, that I could achieve a dream, that I was smarter than I thought…and that there is victory in finishing. The Maxwell Leadership Bible got me through finishing my undergraduate and Masters degrees and letting God build in me a heart to lead. Thanks for this reminder.

  43. 43
    Keturah Jones says:


  44. 44
    Gustino Kachingwe says:

    Hi John

    That’s a good one once again from that side. Thanks for rekendling the inner momentum with that post.

  45. 45
    Terry D. Smith says:

    My wife of 10 years walked away from our marraige 8 months ago. My counselor says its a major mid-life crisis and i strongly suspect she is intimiate with another guy. Its been one of the toughest things I have had to deal with in my almost 50 years of life. All that I am left with is responding to her behavior biblically and to keep going, just as you described in your article John, Thank you so much, I appreciate what God does through you to help people like me… God Bless you John, Terry

  46. 46
    Ben says:

    Thank you Master.
    What a wonderful article. You boosted my soul and mind up.
    I’m a pre-networker.