There is something I have realized over the course of my endurance career and time spent in the military, it is those that are the most vocal about not quitting are often some of the earliest to leave. I am not trying to prove a cause and effect here, just merely stating a strong correlation and attempting to explain why I think that is. I think the people are the loudest about not quitting are doing two things:
- They are seeking external support.
- They are trying to re-enforce the belief they are not quitters despite internal feelings that state otherwise.
By constantly talking about not quitting, they are looking for others to support them and agree with them. Deep inside they know they are shaky about persevering, so they have to constantly state it out loud by yelling or repeating the phrase. From an outsiders perspective it looks like they are trying to motivate others, but really they are trying to motivate themselves. Meanwhile, most of the mentally stronger athletes or candidates do not talk about quitting because it is nowhere in their mindset. It is simply not an option that is available. Since they do not view it as an acceptable outcome there is no need to talk about it or tell everyone how they are not going to quit.
The loud also often utter the phrase, “I have never quit anything in my life”. Not true, but keep lying to yourself. If you never quit anything than you would still be doing all the same activities you were doing as a kid as an adult, so I guess I will see you this week at baseball practice, Boy/Girl Scouts, swim team, karate and basketball. Most of those activities have an age limit, but growing up I know most people did not reach the age limit before quitting. Even if you did reach the age limit, there are still adult versions available for most of those activities or ways to support those programs as an adult. I have quit plenty of things in my life, I just do not quit anything that I decided was important to me in the middle of the event. The level of importance is a decision made when you are well rested, it is not a sliding option that says put in a mediocre effort and quit before you fail.
If you watched the History Channel’s The Selection, the things I talk about in this article and the last one will hit you in the face. Out of the 26 contestants that did not make it, 24 quit. One candidate was medically dropped by the cadre and one failed to meet standards, the rest quit. Before any of these athletes or contestants failed, they quit. Think about that…their limits were self-imposed.
While watching the show with my family, I would call out who is going to quit before it happened. All I did was pay attention to who used the word “quit” when talking. Every time the cadre got in the face of the participants and one of them said, “I’m not quitting”, they were gone by the end of the episode. It could be that they edited the footage so only the contestants who ultimately failed said this but based off my experience it is because those that made it to the end of the season simply never said it.
When quitting is not an option, you won’t talk about it because it is simply nowhere in your mind. Focus on the task at hand and keep putting one foot in front of the other. At the end of the day, I think you’ll be surprised at how far it can take you.
If you missed Part I: Let’s Talk About Quitting you can access them here.
Evan Perperis is a National Strength and Conditioning Association- Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT), a SOF military veteran with 44 cumulative months of combat deployments and an Obstacle Course Racer for the Conquer The Gauntlet Pro Team. He specializes in endurance racing and is also the author of two books, Strength & Speed’s Guide to Elite OCR and Mud Run Guide’s Ultra-OCR Bible.