Quit or Stick

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple as CEO, he found a lot of variations of Mac getting developed. There was Mac for this, Mac for that, separate Mac for everything. He asked one question to the people developing, “If I had to buy one for my nephew, what would you recommend me?”

He got several options. Then he asked, “If I had to buy one for my nephew, what would you suggest from the ones you just suggested?” He got more fine-tuned answer.

He kept asking this question until a lot of the variations were rejected. Then he went up to the board and drew a 2x2 matrix. On one axis, he wrote, “Personal” and “Professional”. On another axis, he wrote, “Desktop” and “Portable”. He concluded that Apple would make only four variations of Mac, and they would shut down development of every other variation.

Of course, they had invested enough resources in the development of those versions and shutting them down would be a waste of resources. But continuing them would be continued waste of the resources. Quitting is thought to be a bad thing, most of the times. But there are times, when quitting makes a lot sense than continuing. Not necessarily immediately, but eventually.

Clarity lets everyone maintain their focus and energy on one purpose, which results in great returns (not just good returns).

Think of a gardener. He maintains the beauty of garden, and for this one single purpose, he has to cut of extra grown buds or old/dying flowers. He has to let go of a few flowers to keep the garden maintained and beautiful. If he would keep thinking, “we used fertilizers on these flowers too, if I cut them, it would be a waste of resources,” then the whole purpose of his existence would be questionable.

I have figured out a few scenarios when quitting makes more sense than continuing it.

  1. When it’s time has come: You don’t play board games any more. Old flowers would make no sense in a beautiful garden.
  2. When it becomes difficult to continue: That’s when relationship ends. When a startup runs out of cash.
  3. When it interferes with the bigger purpose: Young flowers need to be cut off if they grow in wrong direction. That’s when you fire an employee because she was making the environment bad for all.

There may be many more specific reasons, but most often every reason can be fitted into these three categories. Whenever in doubt if you should quit or stick, quit if it fits in any of these situations. Else, stick to it.

Not quitting and sticking to it is overrated. If quitted, at right time, for right reasons, it makes more sense.

Well, these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below!

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