I just got off the phone with one of my best friends from college. Besides catching up, we always get into deep intellectual and philosophical debates about life, our respective career choices, current challenges, long-term visions, navigating the ups and downs of dating like most other 20 somethings, and reflecting on prior challenges we have managed to overcome.
Today’s post is going to be a little different. While I will talk about dating, this post is mostly going to cover the topics of mindset, a little performance psychology, and most of all re-framing your attitude and approach around the concept of failure and quitting.
I’m not saying I’m a quitter by any means, nor do I condone giving up completely on whatever it is you’re trying to pursue. Just like you, I’m a competitor at heart, and for whatever I may lack in natural talent or intelligence, one thing I’ve always prided myself on is the ability to complete or accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It doesn’t matter how ludicrous the endgame may sound or be. I’ll shut my emotions down, get completely addicted to my work like a drug addict looking for his next fix, and approach my craft with a borderline sociopathic focus.
But honing this ability didn’t happen overnight, and I don’t expect you to take it to those kinds of levels. You’ve most likely heard the term “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” From our youth all the way to adulthood, we’re told that quitting is bad and that we’re less of a person if we decide to throw in the towel and give up. But I can honestly tell you, in all the times I’ve ever given up and or quit, it’s those moments where I’ve been able to step back, reassess my approach, and manged to develop and have massive breakthroughs.
“Quitting isn’t failure, we spend so much time deliberating, planning, mentally visualizing, and mentally masturbating instead of plunging ourselves head first into whatever it is we want to do. We’re afraid to fail but when we surrender ourselves to the journey, fail a few dozen times, quit, take a step back, and repeat the process, it’s only then when we learn effectively, have breakthroughs, and win the big game of life.” – Chris M.
As I quote my best friend from college, he perfectly summed up what quitting means to him and how it’s not a bad thing to throw in the towel and reassess where we’re at from time to time. I’d characterize him as a competitor at heart with a lot of quirks. But for all the times he’s tried something, failed hard at, and given up all fucks, he always manages to come back – harder, more stubborn, passionate, and with a high tolerance for criticism.
It’s crazy how life has panned out for him. When we first met, I remember how much he hated what he was studying in college. He was forced into Mechanical Engineering by his parents, and despite the wanton desire to want to give up, he persevered, quit, dabbled in other things, quit, joined a fraternity, quit, persevered some more, quit, got suspended for a semester, quit, got a DUI, quit, became a salesman, persevered again, quit, became a warehouse manager, quit, got into a string of relationships that succeeded and failed, quit, and despite all the setbacks, managed to finish what he started and got his Mechanical Engineering Degree.
While at heart he hated crunching numbers and formulas, he took that ability to stomach something he utterly hated to immediately have the courage and tolerance to apply for every single non-engineering related job in Corporate America. Of course, like learning how to get good with women, applying for jobs, especially those out of your paradigm, range, and skill set, can seem impossible.
While his engineering peers all had the assumption that they’d find work right away, he decided to put himself out there and take the first opportunity that landed on his plate. A few months of uncertainty during our last semester led him to apply to a fortune 500 railroad company looking for in-house management consultants. He had no idea what it entailed, but decided to jump on the opportunity, as it was a ticket out of a career he had absolutely no interest in.
One year later, he’s traveled all over the country on the company’s dime, is consistently challenged but in a way that let’s him use his natural people skills, and is just passionate about what he does now compared to what he suffered through in college. He sees the road going onward and upward from this point on.
That’s just one example of why you shouldn’t beat yourself up whenever you decide to quit and take some time to reassess where you’re at and what you want. Like you, I’m not perfect either. I’d never want to paint a picture of me being some hot-shot ladies man with the ability to woo any girl I meet. Like you, I’m a normal guy with an incredibly high tolerance for risk and failure. It was never always like this, but I quit things multiple times in my life to figure out what I was really passionate about and wanted to do.
One example I often use is when I was in high school. At the time, my biggest dream was to become a D-1 college basketball player. Day and night, I relentlessly played basketball, trained, and worked out like a maniac. But after failing to make the team throughout my high school years, I had gotten multiple mini injuries throughout the process and realized I just wasn’t skilled or tall enough.
Despite putting my heart and soul into it and playing with a competitive tenacity that would earn me more enemies than friends, eventually after a lot of frustration, battling through chronic ankle and lower back injuries, emotional burnout, and coming to terms with the fact that I wasn’t as passionate about the game, I finally gave up on that dream.
It may sound stupid or crazy to think that I’d just completely quit and give up, but I had so many emotional and psychological breakthroughs and maturity through that process. It was the start of a journey that would eventually lead me down a very unconventional path, one that’s made me really appreciate what I took away from it.
Fast forward to 6 years later, now I work in NYC as a professional dating coach, motivating men to take charge of their love lives. It’s part psychological counseling, part performance coaching, part life coaching, part motivator, and part fixer. On top of that, I co-founded a fashion line with my cousin and another good friend, and I’m working on my master’s degree in management at Harvard.
I’m not telling you this to brag about my life. On the contrary, I’m no genius, and I spent the first half of my life as a chronic underachieving student with no work ethic. If I hadn’t gone through the process of failing so much, quitting, coming back, quitting again, working harder, failing, quitting, reassessing, and eventually pivoting, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today. That doesn’t mean I have it all figured out. As with any craft you put your heart and soul into, entrepreneurship has it’s difficulties, challenges, and growing pains that push you to your limits.
When I quit and reassess, I’ve always ended up doing better in the long haul. Just like my best friend in the earlier example, I had started something, tried it, quit, tried it again, quit, persevered some more, quit, and managed to succeed throughout the long-term process.
This same philosophy can be applied to learning how to meet women. It’s often frustrating trying to figure out where you’re getting stuck. As you go through the process, you feel as if you’re not making any significant breakthroughs after going through the initial growing pains of learning the foundational skills, building up the emotional callouses from constant rejections, and making some progress with a girl, only to have it go back all the way to square one.
With all that said, now I’ll leave you with a few constructive tips that you can apply when you’ve hit a plateau, failed, or quit for the time being.
1. This isn’t a race, it’s a competition with yourself. Don’t let the outside define your success.
We often have this romanticized version of success. You put the work in, have a condensed training montage like Rocky, get in the ring, and win the championship. As cool as that sounds, life is not a training montage. The road to success comes with a lot of pain both physical and mental, a lot of setbacks, mini victories, more setbacks, and periods where you become disillusioned and want to quit.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to quit to move on for a moment and gain some perspective and contrast. We’re not machines; we’re human, we’ve got flaws, we face setbacks, and we all have shit we go through. Take your time, there’s no rush, it doesn’t matter what the other person is doing, even if they’re successful already. You don’t know their journey or what goes on in their lives behind the success.
My point is, forget the critics, forget the noise, forget the other people, and take your time to figure out what success means to you. As I always say, perception is a powerful tool. It’s important to understand that your standard of success may not be the same as other people’s standards of success. Take the time to think, reflect, and follow your gut.
2. The Power of Re-Framing
I’m not saying to blatantly lie to yourself and act like you live in La-La-Land. What I mean by re-framing is using everything both good and bad that comes into your life as leverage. Remember, it’s not quitting; it’s a setback or a plateau. In order to get to the next level, you need to step back, reassess, and actively figure out if you should persist or pivot.
Oftentimes we get into this bullshit negative feedback loop where we beat ourselves up for quitting, failing, or stopping short of finishing a task or a job. It’s important to remember that you’re wasting more time by letting it destroy you and beating yourself up. Remember what I said about leverage… “This is part of the process. I can let it destroy me or build me up, and no matter what happens I choose the latter, I’m gonna let this build me up.”
Whether you get rejected by the prettiest girl in the bar, fail an exam that’ll determine the next year of your life, or miss out on your dream shot, always remember that everything that comes your way is going to make you tougher and stronger. Just like confidence, building grit is a muscle that needs to be exercised constantly.
3. Think of the big picture, surrender yourself to the journey, and understand that success isn’t linear.
I wish I would’ve figured this out much sooner, but starting from my failures as a slacker of a student, to failing and persevering with my short-lived athletic career, getting rejected by every school I applied to as a high school senior, getting rejected by every girl I asked out to my senior prom, getting my act together in community college, learning and frequently failing with women, getting accepted into Rutgers after hustling for two years in community college, going through Craft of Charisma coaching and seeing better results with women, struggling and failing a few more times with my academic, dating, and social life at Rutgers, succeeding after getting my shit together again and hustling my ass off for another two years while simultaneously apprenticing as a coach for Craft of Charisma, graduating on time and celebrating one last time with an iconic class and my best friends, to a few weeks later caring for and eventually losing one of my closest relatives, my Uncle Rick, to cancer a few weeks after finding out his diagnosis, taking the rest of that summer after having another existential crisis to reassess and reevaluate my life, creating a personal philosophy, and starting Harvard the following fall along with co-founding a business with my cousin and taking on more responsibility at Craft of Charisma as the newest senior dating coach… I’m still a work in progress, and you should always view yourself as a constant work in progress.
“To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill
If you’ve noticed the pattern, I failed a lot. I kept failing, seeing a little success, failing, having more breakthroughs, having a little success, failing again, etc. My point is, it’s always important that you have a clear big picture dream or ambition you’re working towards that serves as your north star. The road is filled with so many unpredictable turns, setbacks, and successes along the way that’s preparing you for the big one.
I’ve bled, cried, quit, and stepped back multiple times over this 6 year span. But at the end of the day after reassessing, gaining some insight, letting the experiences toughen me up, taking on both positive and negative feedback, and persevering, I still get out of bed every morning and do what I have to do to make my dreams a reality.
I still push myself to keep doing it better than yesterday, even when I get lazy and complacent. At this point it’s a habit, but even if I quit for a period of time, I still hop back into it and push forward.
‘Til next time… Take care for now, we’re always here for you guys!