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Don’t Give Up Before It Gets Good

by | Process

If you survey the virtual landscape of the lives of many creative professionals (and organizations), you’ll find it littered with fragments of ideas, half-finished projects, and abandoned inspiration. In truth, there is rarely enough time to do all of the things we want to do, and some of these castaway projects were casualties of the law of limited focus and time. However, there is also something else at work that causes people to lose their steam and give up before they can reap the rewards of their effort.

I call it the lag.

The lag is the gap between cause and effect. It’s the season between planting a seed, and reaping a harvest. It’s the time when all of the work you’ve done seems to have returned little to no visible reward, and there is little on the horizon to indicate that things are going to get better.

When you are in the lag, the only thing that keeps you moving forward are (1) confidence in your vision and ability to bring it to fruition, (2) a willingness to say “no” to other things that tempt you to divert from your course, and (3) daily, diligent, urgent progress.

Urgency and diligence are the foundation of “hustle”, and hustle is the best antidote to lifelong regret. If you hustle, you never have to wonder “what if?” It’s difficult to hustle when you’re in the lag, because you experience all of the pain with little return, but without the effort you won’t get to experience the rewards.

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with quitting. In fact, there are times when it makes more sense to quit than to continue. However, quitting should be a strategic choice, not one made out of fear or discomfort. You should be moving toward something, not running away from something.

Often, people give up during the lag and they subsequently fail to reap the reward for all of their hard work. They forget that there is always (ALWAYS) a delay between planting and harvesting.

If you need to quit something, do it. However, consider that you should quit because it makes sense, not because it’s just hard.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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  1. min amisan

    So very true. Length of the lag is also an issue, where people understand its existence and are prepared to wait a while, but don’t know if it should be 6 months, 2 years, a decade…

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