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When to Persist and When to Pull the Plug

In any endeavor that matters, it's one of the most important questions you must ask yourself. "Is this worth it?"

When do you hang on? When is the right time to let go? These are big, hairy, wicked questions to which there is no absolute answer and rarely a clear one. Turns out, however, that an answer lies in your attachment to your work and the stories you tell yourself about it.

Creative’s of all stripes (and you are a creative), struggle with attachment. You love your work and those you do it with and for. You can’t help but fall in love with both the work and the people.

Which makes it really hard to quit and walk away, even when doing so will serve both your best interests and those of the people you work with and for. Seth Godin speaks frequently to these issues. His advice? "Ignore sunk costs" and "Recognize the Dip."

Sunk Costs are investments made in the past that were poorly conceived, are outdated, or aren’t serving you or your tribe. It doesn’t matter what it is or how much time, money, or effort you’ve invested. If that project, program, or product isn’t serving you and those you serve in a remarkable and necessary manner, then you must let it go and move on.

The Dip is the inevitable challenges that arise when you’re engaged in difficult but remarkable work. It’s the emotional labor, the heavy lifting, the grind. It’s something you must navigate through because the time, money, and effort will pay off because your project, program, or product is so rare and necessary.

The essential distinguishing factor for determining when to quit or when to stick is whether or not your project, program, or product is truly remarkable, one of a kind, and transformative. Is it worth it? If it is, stick with it and get through the dip. If it’s not, ignore sunk costs and quit or do what's necessary to make it remarkable.

What's the work you're doing that's challenging but worth it? What's the hard part? What are the sunk costs and where is the Dip? Identify and define them before you decide to persist or pull the plug.

Keep flying higher!

Scott

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