By Ryan Rose
November 8, 2012
For most of our lives, we have been convinced that the only way to truly fail is to give up. Everyone is a winner…unless you quit—then, you’re a loser. I think quitting can be a good thing, and it’s healthy to learn how and when to quit.
Let’s say there’s a man—we’ll call him Jack—who is breaking open rocks. We might ask him why he’s breaking open these rocks, and if he were to tell us that he was looking for food inside the rocks, we would suggest that he stop—quit, as some people might phrase it. Jack might be too proud to quit, and therefore wasting his time. But it gets worse. Not only is Jack wasting his own time, but he was recently appointed the Secretary of Food for the island where he lives. Now, there are other people on this island who are better at getting food, like hunters, but unfortunately, Jack has filled the position and, for argument’s sake, knows of no other way to get food and is simply unqualified.
If Jack is too proud to quit, he will continue to search the insides of rocks for food that does not exist. His parents might even be proud of him for staying the course. If, however, Jack decides to quit his job as Secretary of Food, one of the hunters on the island can take the position and finally feed all the hungry islanders. What’s more, Jack can use his Master’s Degree in Engineering to build some much needed bridges to the other islands where people know the difference between coconuts and rocks.
Quitting is not about giving up a task or obligation so that you can lie around and do nothing with your newfound free time, but to replace that task with something for which you are qualified, while allowing someone else to handle your old job, which may well be their field of expertise.
In economics, this is called comparative advantage. If we do not utilize our differences and accept our own shortcomings, we cannot make use of the fact that we live in a community rather than in isolation. Worse yet, we limit ourselves and our potential for fulfillment in life as coconut-crackers and bridge-builders.
Ryan is a senior majoring in English and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org