Five Ways to Overcome the Folly of Perseverance

Bad ideas were good once but nothing always works.

Quitters never win. At least that’s what we think.

The danger of perseverance is
it’s virtuous but not always wise.

Thomas Edison famously said, “Many of life’s failures are men who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Don’t let Edison’s statement drive you along a losing course.

Why we persevere when we should quit:

  1. Self-confidence. Leaders persist when they should adapt because of perceived competence. “I can make it work.”
  2. Progress. A little progress is a dangerous thing.
  3. Hope. “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.” Friedrich Nietzsche.
  4. Success in the past.
  5. Fear of failure.

Bonus: The value of past effort drives people to commit more effort in the present, sunk cost.

How to quit:

  1. Adapting isn’t giving up. Stay focused on big goals while adjusting methods.
  2. Define failure, as well as success, before beginning.
  3. Ask, “What would new leaders do?” Then, do it.
  4. Invite feedback from outsiders. You don’t see what others see.
  5. Believe self-confidence may lead you astray.

Bonus: Never let the fear of failure and losing face make you foolish. Humble yourself.

Why do leaders hang on too long?

How can leaders learn to let go of things that aren’t working?