Saturday, November 12, 2011

To Quit or Not To Quit

About a year ago, I had a great conversation with one of my close friends Mehul Kar about the right time to quit. I always have the best conversations with Mehul as I consider him a wise and reassuring friend who seems to make minuscule whatever problem or issue I encountered since I have met him.
The conversation about the right time to quit evolved from my premature decision to quit my position with Whitewater Student Government (WSG). I have always wanted to work with WSG, I still remember walking everyday past the WSG office and thinking to myself: "I want to be part of it!". I knew it was going to be hard to join it for several reasons, the most obvious one was because I was an international student and joining a governmental organization on campus could be a challenge, another reason was that I had nothing in common with the members of the organization except that I was a student and I cared about the campus and its students. But later my dream became a reality and I was hired to join WSG, I was very excited and could not wait to start working there and have my space in the office. I wanted to make it the best experience and tried to work hard to satisfy my duties but things didn't turn the way I wanted and had opposition from the members of the organization to the point that I wanted to quit my dream and enjoy the last months left in college with no pressure or stress. But when I spoke with Mehul, he asked me one question that totally changed my decision: "Are you in a dip, in a cliff, or in a cul-de-sac? ". I had to think the whole night about this question to come up with an answer. My answer the next day was "A dip!". I was not ready to quit but I was ready to push myself more and succeed. I did not want to fail and was ready to make more sacrifices in order for me to stay with WSG, meaning I had to work with the opposition around me to make progress and I did!

You probably wonder what are Cliffs, Cul-de-sac and dips, right?
Well cliffs refer to the situation where everything is going very well now but you know it will eventually go wrong and make you fail, so you have to quit. Cul-de-sac, as fun as the name sounds, it refers to the situation where there is no future ahead, the road is closed in front of you and you have to make a detour (quit), a dip in my understanding is the situation where things are going bad but with more hard work and persistence you could overcome those obstacles and succeed. Clear?

A year from my conversation with Mehul, going through more experiences and having to overcome more obstacles, I realized that this philosophy is wrong! If someone came to me today with the same issue I will ask them: "Are you ready to reinvent yourself?". Quitting is not the right answer anymore. When you are in a cliff or cul-de-sac you have to reinvent, change things in you and around you. I read in an article that if you are in the newspaper industry you are in a cliff because the industry is failing and you have to think of quitting, I would not call it quitting but I'd say reinventing. The word "quit" seems to me so negative that I don't want to believe in it.

Two years ago, I started working on a business idea called "studentutor" with a partner. In a couple of months I realized it was going nowhere, I didn't quit! I reinvented by changing partners and reinventing the idea to come up with a better idea, and that is where Peer2Connect came from... from reinventing.

Summary: When you think that there is no hope and that the road is closed ahead or around you, start by changing (reinventing) yourself and your environment. You might let go something for another that is better, but you are not quitting.