What do you need to quit in order to succeed?
When I think back on the obstacles I’ve faced in my life, there are times when I’ve been surprised at the answers. It hasn’t always been something bad standing between myself and the next level. There are times when we, as people looking to lead in business or entrepreneurship—whether we’re embarking on new jobs and careers or some other journey in life—just have to give up things in order to make space to excel.
You see, there’s something I’ve learned over the years. Sometimes good things hold us back, too.
How is that possible?
Think about it this way.
Imagine a bike with training wheels.
When you were a child, you needed training wheels in order to learn how to ride a bike. Those extra wheels enabled you to get up and learn how to ride. You could master pedaling and braking. Once you had the hang of it, you could leave behind the training wheels so that you could truly begin to excel and master the toughest part of riding a bike: balance.
That extra wheels weren't bad. Far from it! You needed them. But you didn’t need them forever. In fact, if you held on to them forever, you never would have been able to master the bicycle.
So the same is true of our careers and leadership roles.
So here’s the question: what are the training wheels in your life?
3 Signs You Need to Quit Something Good to Succeed
1) When It Only Serves a Habit
Good habits become bad habits when they stop serving a purpose. Do you ever have meetings that have stopped being productive? It’s like getting your hair cut too frequently! If something you’re doing isn’t working anymore and you’re just doing it out of habit, stop. There’s no point in continuing to do it just because it’s always been that way or because it worked great in the past.
It takes a true leader to stop and re-examine things as they are in the present and think about where they’re headed. You have to be the one to put your foot down when you see that things aren’t working. When something good—a meeting, a project, an account, whatever it is—ceases to serve its original purpose, or worse, begins to get in the way of progress? It’s time to quit.
2) When It Fulfills Old Obligations
As you move on to bigger and better roles in your life, remnants of our old selves still hang around. We have old roles, old obligations, and old things that we used to do to serve those roles. It might be workflow habits, things that fulfilled our job description, or something else. Whatever the case, we can get bogged down by our old selves and old job descriptions. Other people, too, can keep you beholden to that self.
It’s important that you, as a leader, assert yourself in your new role and put your foot down. Fulfill your new obligations, not your old ones. Find out what workflow suits your new role. What works here and what doesn’t? This is a chance for reinvention and rediscovery.
3) When It Keeps You From New Opportunities
Lastly, we should quit good things when they keep us from new opportunities. As leaders, we’re busy people. We often want to do everything, especially when they’re good things. We want to be in on all the meetings, explore all of the ideas, and keep all of the clients. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic picture of business. There’s an opportunity cost in everything, and it includes how we choose to spend our time and what we choose to pursue.
You can know when you need to drop something old but good when it is constantly holding you back from new opportunities. Though those opportunities may not be perfect, they may be the key to growth. They may take you and your business to the next level.
We can’t continually hold on to our old selves (even the good parts) at the cost of new opportunities. It might be risky. It might be scary. But ultimately, if the good, old things are preventing us from growth personally and professionally and if they’re causing stagnation, then maybe they aren’t so good anymore.
For the health of your business and career, step back.
Where have you kept the training wheels on? Maybe—just maybe—there’s something good in your life that’s worth quitting.