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Think Bucket: On Grit, Quitting & Success


Growing up, we all sort of have a path laid out for us. In middle-class Indian households, it’s about excelling at studies and then choosing a field in college that we’re supposed to turn into a lifelong career.

In my humble opinion, that’s just a sad way to live.

That one statement can give you so many reasons for why we fear quitting:

  • We fear wasting time and effort

  • We fear having to start afresh

  • We fear letting go of expectations – both ours and our families’

  • We fear doing something different from our own idea of success

We FEAR and we stick with something because of a term known as Sunk Cost Bias or Fallacy. We believe that since we’ve invested time, energy, and perhaps money into our current endeavor, it’s worth sticking on to.

But should we continue sticking to a path just because it’s against our mental code to give up?

We’re taught from the very beginning to applaud grit and perseverance. According to Angela Duckworth in her best-selling book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, a person with high grit can outwork and eventually outperform someone with greater talent.

But what if your passion changes? What if the only way to find your passion is to experiment with several career choices? Does that make you a quitter? Do you need to persevere through your doubts for the sake of being gritty?


In economics, there’s a term called Match Quality. It is used to describe how well someone’s identity fits in with the work that they do.

Karibo Jackson, a labor economist, studied teachers to determine how match quality affected their productivity. He found that teachers who move schools were more effective at improving student performance after the move than before it. Had they not quit their previous school, they possibly wouldn’t have found a school that better fit their psychological and interpersonal needs.

In his book Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World, David Epstein argues that leaving yourself open to switching careers if you find the job doesn’t suit you, catapults you farther faster than trying to stick it out. It’s like committing to your first boyfriend. The odds you’ll stay together forever are reasonably low


The most profound case for this statement is made by the marketing genius Seth Godin in his book The Dip. He asserts those who reach the top of their fields, quit fast and often when they realise something isn’t a fit.

If we’ve opened a business or joined a start-up, quitting can be devastating. To walk away means we admit some level of wasted effort or the loss of a dream, which feels like failing.

But if you look at almost any successful person out there, you’ll see that they quit several things that weren’t working to stick with ones that were. There are countless examples of drifters who ended up making millions later in life.

Richard Branson is a great example. He has opened and closed over a 100 businesses to stick with the few that turned him into one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, are all examples of people who followed strategic quitting to achieve success.


What is one thing you know you need to quit in order to get closer of realising your true potential?

Until next week,


P.S. Ever wondered how the internet works? This should help

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