Winners Sometimes Quit
By Comedian, Jamie Lissow
I remember when I was little my parents wouldn’t let me quit swimming lessons. I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old. The demonic face of that swimming instructor is like a nightmarish hieroglyphic etched on a wall in my mind. It was the hardened, angry face of a woman who was forced to teach children to swim at seven in the morning.
I remember one morning I refused to get in the water. I can’t recall why I chose that day to take a stand. I just remember I was shivering from a combination of being freezing cold and frightened to death. The instructor reached up, and took my hand in an uncharacteristically sympathetic gesture. Then she yanked me into the pool. The top of my head suddenly covered with water. My life flashed in front of my eyes but I hadn’t been alive for that long so it was just few things and wasn’t long. My lungs suddenly locking up, confused as to why we were breathing water instead of air. It was the most frightening thing that had happened to me up until that point. I would continue to go to lessons but I would not learn to swim.
It seems like there are two types of teachers. The ones that were born to do it; angelic super-hero like humans with a burning core energy of creativity and love. And the ones that seem like they were forced to do it and hate every second of it.
Come to think of it I never saw that swimming instructor outside of the pool and wouldn’t be completely surprised to find out that from the waist down she was some sort of sea creature. Kind of like a mermaid without any of the traditional mermaid qualities that would make you want to try to date them.
I ended up learning to swim… almost ten years later, no thanks to that lady.
Now, I understand why my parents forced me to stay in the lessons, learning to swim is important. After all, swimming is the only sport that might someday save your life. This is why a triathlon is done in the order it is… swimming, running then biking because if you’re exhausted and stop biking you don’t die. And rule number one of parenting is to keep your kid alive. But I should have been allowed to quit.
Sometimes it’s doesn’t make sense to “stay the course!” To “Just Do It”! I hate that poster of the kitten hanging onto the tree branch that says “Hang In There!”.
Why should he?
I would rather have a poster on my wall that says “Let Go!” and it’s just a picture of a tree branch. Have you ever seen a kitten fall? They rarely get hurt, they spring up and scamper off. On to something better.
Sometimes it makes sense to quit. To let go. To try something else. Maybe something you’re better at or more passionate about.
Confucius said “Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life.”
These are not words to be taken lightly. You spend roughly one third of your life working.
One third. Of your life.
And then you spend another third sleeping. Which only leaves one last third for eating and Netflix.
And time is relative. So you have to choose how to spend that third of your life wisely. Think about how time flies during summer vacation and how it drags during that three hour night class lecture you have zero interest in.
You don’t want to end up earning a lot of money at a job that makes you miserable just to drive an expensive car to and from that job you hate.
If I could go back in time and give advice to my younger self I would say something like:
“Don’t concentrate on what you think will make you a lot of money. Instead focus on something you are truly passionate about. But passion itself isn’t enough. Find a way to harness this passion to fill a need, to add value to someone’s life. Pursue this intensely without worrying or even thinking about money, fame, etc. Just do the work and keep doing the work. Success and money will be a side-effect of that effort. And also… Tammy is a psycho!”
I probably wouldn’t have listened but that’s what I would have said.
A lot of winners quit. They quit day jobs to become artists. They quit drinking to be more productive. They quit something that someone else can do better to concentrate on something they excel in.
If you find yourself 15 minutes into a movie that sucks, get up and leave.
If you suddenly realize the major you chose isn’t exactly what you want to do. Quit. Find a different one. Now. The sooner the better.
If you’re in a relationship that you know will not work for you long term. Quit! Don’t screw up that other awesome third of your life by spending it with the wrong person.
I believe that winners sometimes have to quit.
Not passionate about it? Just Don’t Do It.
Learn more about comedian Jamie Lissow