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I’m Not a Quitter (#19)

The Confident Leader

No leader I’ve ever known associates with being a quitter, but sometimes they fall prey to the temptation to give up. Why is that and are they quitting too soon? 

Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
— Thomas A. Edison, Inventor

This Week’s Edition

QUITTING: How do I know when to quit an existing strategy and move on to the next new idea?   

Clarify Your Thinking

In conference rooms across the country, leaders planning for the new year are asking themselves, “What strategies should I continue to support?” 

I’m seeing that the temptation to abandon legacy strategies is at an all-time high based on:

·      The crushing pressure to perform now

·      The demand for something new to fuel the “snap back”

·      The uncertainty of the existing strategy given its recent track record

Making matters worse, the idea du jour sounds simply magical – a new shiny object unblemished by any trace of failure, a silver bullet perfectly designed to deliver the short-term forecasted results, delivering us from certain doom.

“Robin, the legacy strategy has let us down and I’m tired of defending it. Plus, the new strategy seems so promising and has no baggage. I think I can get it approved.”

Note: new is not always better… old is not always bad. How should leaders reconcile their feelings of doubt about their current strategy with the euphoria of something new?

Reality testing is an emotional intelligence skill defined as the following: When emotions are involved, is the leader able to see things as they actually are or solely the way the leader wants them to be?

Reality testing allows you to set aside your feelings and see possibilities from an objective vantagepoint. Based on the nine-month emotional toll the pandemic has taken on you, taking a fresh look at an old strategy might be the best way to get the facts you need to clarify your thinking.


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

You can clarify your thinking when you become aware of how your emotions influence your thoughts. To objectively vet your current strategy, ask yourself the following questions that will help lead you to the appropriate actions.



How do we know it doesn’t work? One leader I work with requires a strategy to live for at least three business cycles. She recognizes that the information gathered in one period is not a sufficient amount of data to form a true trend. The law of small numbers – basing a broader conclusion on a small sample size – may cause a leader to infer the wrong conclusion. What’s your sample set?


Your strategy, while straightforward, may need to be tailored to fit the purpose for which it was intended – trial and error.  Most leaders are fine with the “trial” part but flinch at the “error” part, meaning one error can cast a shadow over the entire strategy. “When failure happens, don’t go back to the drawing board.” It’s possible that the whole strategy didn’t fail, just a component piece. Might you evaluate that piece, make a change for that component, and retry?


Often, we are closer to success than we realize. We give up too early. The planning fallacy suggests that we routinely underestimate how long it takes to do any particular task. This carries over to our expectations of the time it takes for a strategy to mature and deliver full-fledged results. We succumb to a standard dictated by instant gratification. Our agrarian ancestors knew better – they planted seeds well in advance of the harvest and showed patience as they waited for the fruits of their labor. Should we give it more time?

Boost Your Performance

Meet Rob Wilson, the incredible entrepreneurial leader of Shave Logic. His idea, an innovative design for a new razor, challenged the 800-pound industry gorilla fiercely protecting its market share. Rob’s leadership journey is a classic case of having every reason to abandon a legacy strategy. Find out how it worked out for him.

What’s Your Opinion?

Share with me your best approach to not quitting to early.

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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