I have liked (and used) this quote ever since I saw it for the first time at a local gymnastics facility for my kids. It is as inspirational as it is logical. Let's dissect the quote in order to let it burn into our minds. Words to live by for sure. Ok, here goes. First, let's assume that there are winners and losers in the world. I am sure that we have all experienced both ends of that spectrum. It feels pretty good to win; and conversely feels pretty bad when we lose. Fairly simple so far, right?
However, I remember "losing" at advanced calculus when I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Ok, so it really wasn't technically "losing," just definitely not winning. I think you get the picture. By setting the bar extremely high, we increase the chances of losing. But that is OK. 75%-80% of Navy SEAL candidates never make it through training. Did they really lose by attempting what might possibly be the most difficult training in the world?
Only if they quit.
When you quit, you don't even give yourself a chance to lose. Losing is much better than quitting, as the above examples clearly show. It would have been so easy for me to quit that advanced calculus class. Indeed the thought did cross my mind- especially when others in my class would sleep through the lectures and ace the tests (obviously not challenging themselves and trying to inflate their GPAs). But in the end, quitting was not an option and even though I did squeeze out a C grade (better to be lucky than good) I did not quit.
Now let's look at the word finished. When one quits, one is completely finished, mentally.
Completely finished. In fact, I will go as far as to say that quitting has some "skill transfer" into other areas of life. Once you quit at one thing, you are much more likely to quit at something else. You become "conditioned" to the laziness and your mind and body unfortunately will adapt to that as well. Besides, is losing that bad? Yes! Of course it is! But it is better than quitting. Let me give a historical example. The Spartans lost the battles of Thermopylae and Sphacteria in 480 BC and 425 BC respectively.
In both battles, the Spartans fought against superior numbers. At Thermopylae the odds were reported to be inconceivably overwhelming. There is one unmistakable difference between both battles; At Thermopylae, 300 Spartans fought to the death. They lost, but they definitely didn't quit. At Sphacteria (see map above: Spartan forces in red, Athenian forces in blue,) the Spartans gave up. They quit. They were surrounded by the Athenians and simply gave up after a long stand off. They quit. Period. One battle will go down in history as one of the most famous "last stands" in military circles. The other goes down as an embarrassment to the Spartan mindset. Thermopylae inspired the Greeks to unite against the Persian Empire and is still inspirational over 2000 years later. That is the power of not quitting.
Speaking of Spartans, that's my daughter kicking the soccer ball in the picture. As you all know, she is one of two girls playing on what is 99% boys soccer. What's more, she is a twin and is very small for her age. My point is, my daughter is playing with physically more dominant boys who are stronger and faster. So, in a sense, she is "losing" the individual battles. Not all of them, but most of them. She is learning not to be a quitter. Much more important. Not quitting will transfer into other areas.
So how do you teach yourself not to quit? You are doing it right now by reading this article and being subscribed to this site. The workouts and challenges are essentially designed for you to develop the "I am not going to quit" gene. It is the gene that can be modified in all of us. It is a gene that spawns all the other behaviors and thoughts that we have to thrive. Don't be scared to challenge yourself beyond your capabilities. You may not win at first. You may even lose. But if you never quit you will eventually win something greater than what you are trying to win. You will develop that "never quit" mindset that will take you anywhere you want to go!
"Lean into it!"