Help! Should You Stick It Out or Move On?

by Alli Polin on July 25, 2017

It’s a question countless small business owners, entrepreneurs, and leaders in organizations large and small have struggled with at one time or another: Stick it out or move on? What if you give up right before you would have been a wild success? Then again, what if you stick it out indefinitely and nothing much happens. 

In all likelihood, you’re not psychic so making the decision needs to be thoughtful with no guarantee of being right. Ugh. However, don’t let that keep you stuck

As I drove down my street this morning, there was a group of birds all pecking at something in the road. I moved my car forward slowly to give them time to scatter. Birds around here seem to wait until last minute to decide if they’re going to bother getting out of the way. This time, they all disbanded except one. 

This one brave bird held her ground, moved over a smidge, and stayed by the side of the interesting bit in the road. 

A quick look in my rearview mirror told the rest of the story. Reward in her beak, she’d won. If birds could smile, I was certain that would be the look on her face. 

So, ask yourself, are you the bird that stuck around, or one of the many that scattered? What’s your gut tell you? After all, there was a car coming, and it could have run you over. Then again, maybe it would just pass you by if you braved it out. 

What’s your natural inclination? Run or stand? Self-preservation or risk-taker?

Believe it or not, one answer or inclination is not is absolutely better than the other in all circumstances.  

People like to think that the “right way” to be is brave (always), bold (without fear), and that you need to do whatever it takes to succeed. However, there are times when self-preservation is the right answer and pushing forward at all costs is not. 

You need to understand the reward. Not all wins are created equal, and some battles simply don’t have to be fought. 

Maybe my one bird that stood her ground actually got something that the others didn’t care about. The ones that left did the right thing on two fronts – safety and value. The value wasn’t there so why take the risk?

Perhaps the bird got something incredibly valuable, and the others had their fight or flight instincts kick in and take control. 

Then there’s a third option, the bird that stayed was just plain dumb, or blind to the threat moving 4,000 pounds of steel down the street towards her tiny body. 

Stick it Out or Move On?

The next time you’re facing the equivalent of a car hurtling towards you, ask yourself these questions as you determine if you should stick it out or move on. I encourage sketch out your answer in a notebook as you brainstorm through. 

If you don’t know the answers, ask for input. Never underestimate the value of a fresh perspective.

1. What’s the value, beyond the monetary, of what I’m trying to achieve?

2. What’s the worst possible outcome? 

3. What’s the best possible outcome?

4. Is it worth it?

5. Where are my blinders?

6. What am I missing?

Not everyone who stands their ground and perseveres is smart and successful. 

Not everyone who moves on is dumb and a loser. 

Life, career, success and leadership are all vastly more complex than “never give up.” It’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. The most successful people know when to stand strong and when to give up, move on – and shift.

What’s been the sign for you to stick it out or move on? How do you know? 

If you want help figuring out your answer and what’s next, let’s talk

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Gary Gruber July 25, 2017 at 8:54 am

Alli
You paint such a great picture with the bird story. Everyone can relate and you make it easier to do that with your illustrations. As for sticking it out or moving on, you remind me of a short piece I wrote some time ago about
“Quitting As a Good Thing” which was in response to the maxim of “Winners Never Quit.” I think that is just plain baloney. For those interested here’s the link: http://www.garygruber.com/quitting-as-a-good thing/

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Alli Polin July 25, 2017 at 8:58 am

I agree with the baloney! Thanks for the link – I’m interested! Quitting at the right time can be a great thing.

Thanks, Gary!

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LaRae Quy July 25, 2017 at 11:41 am

What a great topic! We’ve all been in situations where we truly needed to ask ourselves whether we needed to fish or cut bait. It is not always obvious because I can think back to times when, if I’d persevered, I would have come out on top. But at what cost? As I get older, the “cost” of persevering is becoming more important. And I agree with you and Gary: never quitting is baloney! It’s finding that balance between it’s worth it and when it’s not. Your questions are excellent!

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Alli Polin July 26, 2017 at 6:23 am

I’m with you, LaRae. Costs have changed for me over the past few years. Early in my career I traveled five days a week and worked countless hours of overtime. Needless to say, life, and my choices (and costs I’m willing to tolerate) have changed.

Alli

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Terri Klass July 25, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Terrific post Alli!

I really appreciate your important questions that you ask when dealing with staying or going. I especially love “Where are my blinders?” We often get stuck in the weeds and can’t see what may be the most empowering move for us.

When I have been in these situations throughout my career I have always needed to take time and process and bounce ideas off my trusty advisers.

Thanks Alli and will share today!

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Alli Polin July 26, 2017 at 6:20 am

Here’s to getting out of those weeds! Takes intention, doesn’t it? Also, totally with you on the value of trusted advisors. Sometimes we need input and insights from others to get a full picture. The key is to ask.

Thanks, Terri!

Alli

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John Bennett July 25, 2017 at 2:57 pm

I believe it’s important to answer the great questions you list BEFORE you begin – and then to update the answers regularly of course. As you update them, also ask what new options have been added AND what others might have found out / how believable these outcomes are. It might not even be a good decision to even start…
I was at a conference session once where the the speaker was asked if he knew the solution he was developing was shown not to be applicable to the application he outlined? His answer: yes he was AND he was about to publish an even better solution! Not saying he should not present his work maybe; could possibly be other uses… But he should have addressed to claim of not useful, I think!

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Alli Polin July 26, 2017 at 6:18 am

It’s a great point, John… to revisit. Where we start and where we think we’re going often changes many, many times along the way. Besides, our lives change and shift too and unless we course correct we can end up somewhere quite unpleasant in the end. Thanks for your example too. Definitely brings more color to the conversation!

Alli

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Ingrid Wren July 25, 2017 at 7:21 pm

Great post Alli!

I’ve always taken this quote of W.C. Fields to heart:

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point being a damn fool about it.

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Alli Polin July 26, 2017 at 6:13 am

Fabulous!!! Yes.

Thanks, Ingrid!

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Chery Gegelman July 26, 2017 at 6:04 am

Love the story and the analogy! I can think of so many times it has been worth it to be that bird, and other times it has been much wiser to move on.

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Alli Polin July 26, 2017 at 6:14 am

I’m with you. You never know for sure but one way or another you need to act. Hanging on and crossing fingers isn’t a great strategy. Thanks so much, Chery!

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