Quitting is Fine, Under ONE Condition

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME, EMT
Founder & Executive Director, Break Diving, Inc.

Yes, you can quit!  But… in most cases, the reason you’re quitting is not acceptable.

You see, as far as I’m concerned, 99 out of 100 times, quitting is not allowed.  But there is one precise situation where if you quit, I will tell you that you did the right thing.  But it’s a very rare case.

Got your attention?

Okay, so some of you know that I’m an actor, and it’s been something I have been pursuing for more than 20 years.  I also wrote a few books on becoming a successful actor to boot.  I even produced a fairly successful feature film that I co-starred in!  Cool, the stuff I wrote about in my books actually worked! 😛

And most importantly, I am still pursuing acting.  Not only haven’t I quit, but I am still actively pushing forward with my dreams.  20 years after I first attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts summer program in New York City.

Back in 1997, there were a lot of others who also were embarking on this crazy acting pursuit.  Hundreds of people that I met were going for the big leagues!  Of those hundreds (and thousands), perhaps only 10 people (of which I am one) are today still pursuing acting, in whatever form.

What happened to the other 500 hundred (or more like 5,000 wannabes)?   Answer: They quit.

Every once in a while, I will run into one of them.  And when I ask, “Why did you quit?” they have a whole bunch of interesting answers:

  • Oh, I wasn’t good enough.
  • Oh, I had to make a more steady living.
  • Oh, my family wanted me to get a real job.
  • Oh, the competition was fierce.
  • Oh, you need connections (and I didn’t have any)
  • Oh, I got tired.
  • Oh, I gave myself a deadline and then quit when I reached it.
  • Oh, I realized I wasn’t going to succeed.
  • Oh, I missed home.

And that list goes on… and on… and on…

There is one common denominator to all of those answers and they all imply something very clear about the person speaking: EACH OF THESE INDIVIDUALS STILL LOVED ACTING AND WANTED TO DO IT BUT QUIT FOR SOME LAME EXTERNAL REASON. 

Let’s break it down:

Oh, I wasn’t good enough.  Then what about all those crappy singers, dancers, actors, and musicians who somehow still made it to the top who totally suck?  Clearly, their talent was not the reason they got there.  So don’t give me that crap.

Oh, I had to make a more steady living.  What does that have to do with acting?  I know many actors who have full-time jobs that are flexible that allow them to pay their bills, while still pursuing acting.  So why did you quit?

Oh, my family wanted me to get a real job.  Who says you couldn’t get a real job and still pursue acting?  Many people do.  I do.  Why can’t you too?  No excuses people.  And stop blaming things on your parents and friends.  That is really lame.  Take some responsibility people!

Oh, the competition was fierce.  Yeah?  So what!  The competition is fierce in any awesome field worth getting involved with.  That’s no reason to quit.  That’s a reason to make sure that you are constantly working to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Oh, you need connections (and I didn’t have any).  Then guess what?  Make connections!  Get off your ass and start pounding the pavement and getting your name out there.  Having no connections is no reason to quit.  It’s a reason to work harder.

Oh, I got tired.  Oh, so you thought it was going to be easy?  We all get tired in pursuit of something great.  Take a deep breath, rest for a moment, and then get back on the horse!  Being tired is not a reason to quit; it should be inspiration to get in better shape.

Oh, I gave myself a deadline and then quit when I reached it.  Oh, that’s smart.  Don’t you know that sometimes it takes years?  Your ‘big break’ could have been right around the corner!  If you had just dug one foot deeper, you may have struck gold!  How could that be a legitimate reason to quit?!

Oh, I realized I wasn’t going to succeed.  Um, what the heck do you know?  Are you a mind reader of the public?  Are you a fortune teller?  Sometimes success happens when we least expect it.  You can’t just quit because you come up with some unvalidated premonition about your future.  Give me a break!

Oh, I missed home.  Oh, yeah, so you missed home.  So you’re gonna cough it up to homesickness huh?  I’m not even going to address this.

Look, bottom line, it’s about one thing, and one thing only:



You see, a lot of those people up above with all those lame excuses still in their hearts believe that they really did want to become an actor, and they would have, if only they had more talent, or if only they didn’t miss home so much, or if only they had more confidence, or if only the competition wasn’t so fierce, or if only they didn’t have to get a real job…


NO!  You cannot use these excuses for quitting, because they hide the real reason they quit: THEY DIDN’T REALLY WANT TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL ACTOR!

For, if they really did want to become a professional actor… they never would have quit.  They would have put up with WHATEVER IT TOOK to make it.

Starting to make sense?

In other words, the only time you should ever allow yourself to quit is if you can honestly say to yourself, “Yeah, I really have no more interest anymore in accomplishing that.”

You have to take responsibility.  You cannot blame anyone or anything else.

I don’t care if you don’t have talent—if you want to succeed, go do it.  

I don’t care if your parents want you to get a real job–-if you want to succeed, figure out a way to make it work.

I don’t care if you don’t have connection—if you want to succeed, get off your ass and make those connections!

And realize that this applies to absolutely anything you are doing: fitness, weight loss, education, career, relationships, whatever.  The only time you can give up and quit is if you accept that it wasn’t important to you.  But if it is important to you: you can’t quit!  it’s as simple as that!  No matter how painful things get–you cannot quit!

So what am I saying?  Here it is in a nutshell: The Prerequisite To Quitting: You Must Accept That Succeeding Is Not Important To You.

If you decide to quit, you need to accept that the reason you are quitting… is you.  Not your parents.  Not your wife or boyfriend.  Not your financial situation.  Not your talent.  Not your connections.  Not your physical condition.  NOPE!  The only reason you quit is YOU.  

But all too often, we don’t want to admit that our quitting means we didn’t want to succeed, but folks, that’s the hard knocks truth.  Most people quit because they flat-out give up.  And they try to soothe their ego and sense of self-worth by blaming others and other things for their failure.  They refuse to put the blame squarely where it belongs: on themselves.

Now, many times we will think that we are taking responsibility when really we are not.  Someone without a leg may blame the lack of a leg ‘on himself’, i.e. I can’t run the marathon because I’m physically unable to do it.”  But no, that’s not a valid excuse: the only words that matter are “I realized I didn’t want to succeed”.  For there are plenty of one-legged marathon runners, skiiers, fathers, cyclists, and gymnasts.  They didn’t say, “I’m physically unable to do it.”  No, they asked, “Okay, how am I going to make this work?” And they found a solution.  Why?  Because succeeding was important to them.

So look, if you want to quit, yes, you can.  But I guarantee that unless the honest-to-goodness reason is: “I realized I didn’t want to succeed and that it wasn’t important too me”, then you will regret your decision for the rest of your life, no matter how many ‘excuses’ you can come up with.

I truly believe that anyone who pursues a career in the arts, even for a few months, has that bug inside them.  Most of them gave up on their dream publicly, but it pains me to think that most of these people still–deep within their soul–know that they should be acting.  Or singing.  Or dancing.  But they quit, and the reason was not, “I realized I didn’t want to be an actor.”  The reason was a rotten excuse that doesn’t express the true feelings deep inside.

a) If you are thinking of quitting, make sure you are really quitting for the one and only valid reason: you don’t want to succeed.
b) If you are coming up with lame excuses, sorry: you cannot quit.  You must get up, replan, try again.
b) If you already have quit, GREAT NEWS: it’s never too late to try again, and let your dreams soar once again!  Admit that the bug is still in you and GO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE!

Finally, remember that there’s a difference between “I haven’t quit” and “I am still working hard towards my goal”.  The former allows you sit on the couch all day; the latter requires you to get up and actually make things happen.  Consider that deeply.

Meet you at the top!

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