Quitting usually comes with shame. It feels like bad decisions and ignorance and can certainly be predicated on failure, but it is, and will always be a choice that is 100% within your control. You can’t be forced to quit. You can only choose to quit.
I’m Illana Burk, CEO of Your Life’s Workshop, coach to entrepreneurs and solopreneurs across dozens of industries and host of Good Business. With nearly 20 years experience helping hundreds of clients create profitable, ethically driven and sustainable businesses based on their life’s work, I’m here to teach you how to do great work, make great money, and make a positive impact without feeling like you need a shower afterwards.
Hi everybody. Today’s episode is all about the difference between quitting and failing and why both of those things are 100% a-okay. I’m a business coach; sort of. I work with clients one on one who are past the point of just wanting to make a living. Clients come to me because they want to live with meaning, and they want to make a living while doing it. Today I want to talk about quitting, failing, and the vast difference between the two.
First, we’re going to talk about what is failure. Failure is what happens when shit just falls all the way apart. When you try really, really hard and it just doesn’t work. When you follow all the steps, and no one buys. When you create, create, create, create and then create some more, and no one gives two tiny shits. Failure is also the building blocks for whatever comes next. It’s the start for growth. It’s the scars that make you strong. We’ve all heard people like Bill Gates say things like, “fail and fail fast,” because it’s all the things that go in the book. It’s the things that make you stronger and that make you a leader.
Now, don’t get me wrong, though. Failure is painful, it’s upsetting, it’s demoralizing, and it can often be totally out of your control. You can fail because of external circumstances that have absolutely nothing to do with you. That is the fundamental and major difference between failure and quitting because quitting is a whole other thing.
Quitting usually comes with shame. It feels like bad decisions and ignorance and can certainly be predicated on failure, but it is and will always be a choice that is 100% within your control. That’s the main difference. You can fail because of other things. You can’t quit because of other things. No one can force you to quit. You can only choose to quit.
Here’s the thing about that. This can also be a moment of empowerment instead of shame. With choice, comes power, and with power comes strength. I have coached dozens of clients through failures. Launches that didn’t fly, ideas that fell flat, and concepts that didn’t pan out. Some of those ideas have come directly from me. I am nowhere near being above having bad ideas. My batting average is pretty stellar, but I have absolutely given people ideas that wound up costing them money. And they thanked me for it. That’s the kind of cool thing here. I have also coached people out of being in business, and they thanked me for it. When I do my job really, really well, both of us know that it is not my job to give them someone to blame when shit goes pear-shaped, nor is it my job to always have the perfect answer or strategy or idea or tactic.
My job is to show them how to be in business for themselves; how to make decisions based on what they know to be true, not what I tell them is true. Together, we take what we know together about them, about me, about what’s possible in the marketplace, about the stakeholders that matter to them, and we create strategies that we work on together. It’s never perfect, and it’s hard, and sometimes it fails. Sometimes we never even get that far. Why? Because being in business and being in the business that they have chosen is the wrong thing for them altogether. Sometimes they’re just not cut out for business at all. Not everyone is, and it is my whole-hearted belief – I’ve said this innumerable times to clients, to friends, on group calls – that if you can be happy doing literally anything else to make a living other than being an entrepreneur, you absolutely should.
This path comes with failure and stress and pain and so much risk and so much uncertainty. Lots of good stuff too, but that’s a topic for another day. Today we’re talking about the dark side. It is absolutely not an exaggeration to say that in the first 90 days of working with me, roughly 30% of my clients throw in the towel on being in business for themselves and they thank me for it.
They thank me because I help them understand what they’re truly made of, what they truly want, what actually matters to them, and what the implications of their choices will become down the line. That means that if they stick to it, they can feel 100% all in. It means they can stop looking at craigslist every other day for that one unicorn job that makes quitting feel valid and like a good choice and something that doesn’t feel like their friends and family are going to wag their fingers at them. It means that if they stick with it, they feel at peace with the ride ahead, knowing what it will mean to do this work in this way.
For those that pull up, for those that know this isn’t it, they get to take control with zero uncertainty. They get to feel confident again instead of feeling like everything is wrong, and nothing feels right all the time. Choosing the wrong path for your work in the world is like wearing a jacket that’s the wrong size. Too small and you feel choked and limited and immobile; too large and you feel encumbered, weighed down, and smothered. You have to figure out what you’re made of while also knowing who and what really matters to you. Without that, you can’t make choices that will ever feel right.
So next time you think about quitting, ask yourself this one simple question. Can I be happy NOT doing this? The answer is the starting line for knowing what’s really, really true for you.
Thanks for joining me today and if you think you might be a quitter and need to talk it through, hit me up. You know where to find me.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me today. For more information, visit www.thegood business.co or www.yourlifesworkshop.com.
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