My childhood dream was to soar above the clouds. After a relentless pursuit, my dream materialized in my twenties when I became an airline captain at age 24. Three years later, I quit.
As a twenty-something, I knew there were two things that must not be named: Voldemort and the phrase, “I quit.” However, I dared to speak the latter. I chose to challenge conventional wisdom that commands we follow the perseverance of Navy SEALs who, during training, are expected to never “ring the bell”—never quit—because, in the words of one admiral’s commencement address, if “you want to change the world, don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”
What if that’s the worst advice.
What if the only way to live a life worthy of your God-given calling is to quit?
If you’re experiencing frustration, burnout and hopelessness, may I suggest ringing the bell?
Why you should quit
John Maxwell states that we have three options when we find ourselves in a dissatisfying circumstance: accept it, change it or leave it—quit. So first, ask yourself, why can’t you “accept it.” Does what is happening oppose your values and beliefs (or is just entitlement rearing it’s ugly head)? If so, are you in a position to one day—with patience and determination—make a change? If not, quitting may be a smart move.
How you should quit
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating: Don’t burn bridges. Mr. Browne, from the children’s book Wonder, says it best in his first Precept: “When given the choice between being right, or being kind, choose kind.” If you find yourself needing to quit, bow out respectfully.
What you should quit
Author and Forbes contributor Victor Lipman says, “People leave managers, not companies,” so the reality is, you may not need to go the extreme of quitting your job. Often our dissatisfaction isn’t because of a person or place but a personal behavior. And if we’re not careful and self-aware, these behaviors can and will poison our future—quitting the wrong behaviors now will save us from missing the right successes later. Regardless of your current circumstances, here are 7 “right” reasons to ring the bell if you desire to change the world.
- Quit worrying about what people think of you. Lecrae, a Christian rapper, recently tweeted, “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their rejection.” You can’t make everyone happy, so quit trying to please everyone and live a life worthy of your calling.
- Quit investing in bad habits. I hate jogging, but I do it regularly—mostly so I can continue to eat all the Chipotle I want. I know that if I come home after a busy day and hit the couch, the only marathon I’m participating in is binge-watching The Office on Netflix. However, I submit to the advice of Rory Vaden, author of Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success, he writes, “Successful people do the things they know they should be doing even when they don’t feel like doing them.” I hung this quote on my front door as a daily reminder to hustle. Quitting bad habits isn’t a quick fix, but a lifestyle change.
- Quit taking yourself so seriously. A general aviation magazine wisely noted that professionalism has less to do with a paycheck and more to do with your attitude. Flying passengers was definitely a serious job, but that didn’t stop me from having fun—I once threw a party for my passengers while sitting on a taxiway awaiting departure clearance to LaGuardia.
- Quit asking the easy questions. Adam Grant, in his newly released book Originals: How Non-Conformist Move the World, shares how corporate cultures that welcome individuals with dissenting opinions (not merely selecting people to play the devil’s advocate, but actually embracing their tough questions), are more creative and make the greatest impact on society. Quit asking the easy questions like, “What makes me happy?” and start asking, “How do I quit being a comfortable consumer and become a risk-taking producer?”
- Quit being so easily offended. David McCullough Jr., in his 2012 commencement speech to Wellesley High School, tells graduates that contrary to what little league trophies, exceptional middle school report cards, or even what doting family members suggest, “You are not special… even if you’re one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion, there are nearly 7000 people just like you.” Same is true for you and me: We aren’t any more special than the next, and that’s okay.
- Quit taking pride in being busy. Senior pastor of Life.Church, Craig Groeschel, writes in his book Chazown: Discover and Pursue God’s Purpose for Your Life, “Everyone ends up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose.” Why? Because it’s easier to say, “I’m busy”—which sounds like we’re important—than it is to discipline ourselves and live our values and priorities consistently. Schedule time this week to reflect on what matters most to you. Remember Andy Stanley’s advice that, a “yes” is a “no” to something—which conversely is true.
- Quit living your dream. Mark Batterson, author of Chase the Lion: If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Too Small, talks about how our dreams are tied into the dreams of those before us, up-line, and the dreams of those that come after us, down-line. His point: to honor both those before and after us we must quit our wimpy personal dreams and act upon the desires God has placed deep within our hearts—dreams that require divine intervention to be accomplished.
From this day forward, quit the status quo—the safe and predictable life—and chase the purpose God has for your life (which is anything but safe and predictable). Begin to pray and seek wise counsel so that you’ll be able to quit the “right” wrong pursuits and behaviors limiting your God-given capacity as a person and leader. Go on: ring the bell—so that you’re able to never quit living your calling.