Refusing to Quit


Refusing to quit, while often celebrated as a mark of perseverance, can have both positive and negative ramifications. Here’s a look at various perspectives from trusted experts:

Positive Aspects of Not Quitting

  1. Perseverance Payoff: Dave Burke on the points out that there is a glorification of refusing to give in or give up, which sometimes results in success due to sheer perseverance. Nevertheless, he also warns of the dangers of ignoring potential flaws in one's plan 1.

  2. Strategic Persistence: In ultramarathon running, Zach Bitter notes the value of never quitting. He emphasizes that it adds to the challenge, making one's accomplishments feel more significant 2.

  3. Building a Business: Jason McCarthy shares his journey with GORUCK, where his refusal to quit, despite many setbacks, was crucial for his business's ultimate success 3.

    The Dichotomy of Never Quit

    Dave and Jocko discuss the glorification of never quitting and the weakness it can show. They explore the dichotomy of persistence and knowing when to quit. Echo adds that oversimplifying the concept of persistence can lead to overlooking its complexities.

    Jocko Podcast

    Jocko Podcast 286: The Indirect Approach is The Best "Strategy" in All Cases.

Negative Aspects

  1. Ignoring Real Concerns: Jocko Willink discusses the importance of knowing when to quit, especially if continuing is harmful or ineffective. He shares insights on how rigid persistence can sometimes lead to significant losses or failures 1.

  2. Health Risks: The tragic story of Muhammad Ali, discussed by Annie Duke, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of not quitting. Ali’s refusal to stop boxing, despite severe health warnings, led to irreversible damages 4.

  3. Overlooking Small Wins: Rich Roll and Sean Conway talk about the psychological impacts of not celebrating small wins in the pursuit of larger goals, which can lessen the motivation and satisfaction derived from achievements 5.


While the trait of not quitting is often lauded and can lead to spectacular successes, it's essential to balance this drive with awareness and responsiveness to changing circumstances and personal limits. The dichotomy illustrated by these discussions serves as a reminder that the wisdom to know when to persist and when to let go is crucial.