February 2016: Entrepreneur’s Edge

Why quitting is difficult, but necessary

Joleene 115_MED WEB

Joleene Moody

I encourage you to give up. Seriously. It has come to my attention that quitting is probably the best thing you can do for your business, especially when you’re hanging from a seemingly weak rope, your legs dangling against a bumpy wall.

Not that long ago, I fled my home with a group of fierce women. There were five of us total. We left our work, our spouses, and our children behind. The intention was to escape our often-overloaded lives for the quiet of the snowy Adirondack Mountains. We had some adventures scheduled, including a mountain hike, a yoga class and a few hours at a rock wall, a very tall, very bumpy, very intimidating rock wall.Now I’ve attempted to scale these kinds of walls in the past. I never made it to the top. I told myself I didn’t need to, that the challenge was unnecessary. And, as I stood at the bottom of the 40-foot rock wall in front of me, I told myself the very same thing. I didn’t need to go up there. I had just climbed a 20-foot wall the next room over with great success thanks to the whooping encouragement of my fierce friends. So I didn’t need to double my victory. The climb to the top of the 20-footer was cool, for sure. It was an accomplishment. But it was enough, I told myself. I didn’t have anything else to prove. I was done.

A lie.

As I sat on a cushy mat underneath the archway of a small rock cave, I watched as, one by one, my fierce friends conquered the 40-foot wall. Sometimes they yelled and swore at the colorful stones when their feet slipped or their arms shook with fatigue. Other times they paused, holding on to grooved blue and red rocks with fully stretched arms, resting their flushed cheeks against the cold wall as they waited for their strength to return. I just looked up, snapping my gum, and telling myself again, “I don’t need to do this. I have nothing to prove.”

That’s when my fierce friend Jody looked at me and said. “You have to go up.”

“Nah. I don’t feel like it,” I said. (Lie No. 2.)

“But you have to,” she said. “You can’t just give up. Think about what you do for a living. You help move people through fear. Think of the story you can tell once you hit the top.”

I hate when fierce friends are right.

And so I attempted my ascent, only to stop halfway up because the rocks became difficult. Smaller. Further apart. “I don’t have the strength,” I told myself. And I wasn’t in the mood. So I climbed back down. But as I watched my other fierce friends continue to reach the top, I thought, “I can do this. If they can do it, I can do it. I CAN do this.”

This second time, my ascent was faster. I was more determined. When I hit the difficult part where I had given up 30 minutes prior, I took a deep breath. Or two or four, I don’t remember. I paused, pressing my warm face against the cold wall. “This ascent is possible,” I told myself. So many people before me had done it, which means it was absolutely possible. The only things making it impossible were the stories and lies I was telling myself. And frankly, I’m done with debilitating stories and lies.

With as much fire and determination as I could muster, I fought my way upward, finding strength in my arms and legs I didn’t know I had. Those tiny, difficult rocks became larger than life. I found the grooves, I found the fire, and before I knew it, my hand was slapping the top metal bar at exactly 40 feet. I had prevailed. And at the cost of sounding like a dork, I cried when I hit the top, I was so damn happy.

This might be a really difficult time for you. I know it seems like the entire world is against you. But I also know you can move past this. I don’t know you, but I do know you can do this. I know you can make it through. So many before you have done it, right? That means it’s possible. Right now you may have given up. And I’m glad you did. Giving up was necessary. You had to quit so you could experience the lowest version of yourself. But now it’s time to ascend beyond that version to where the real you awaits.

The rope is stronger than you think. The wall is smoother than it looks. The rocks are less treacherous than they appear.

Fight your way all the way up. Fight hard. And I’ll see you at the top.

Joleene Moody is a freelance writer, blogger and speaker who lives in Oswego County with her husband and daughter. Contact her at joleenemoody.com. Her column appears monthly in NNY Business.