Never Give Up. Ever.

Posted by Jill Chivers in Attitudes and Habits

Today I want to talk to you about something that you need – a personal quality –when you attempt something challenging.  You may not know you have this quality when you start.  But depending on how you approach obstacles, set backs and day to day living, you can discover you do have it.

And that something is this: resilience and resourcefulness.

Let me start with a story that I heard recently, when Steve Jobs died.

Quotation-MarksWhen engineers working on the very first iPod completed the prototype, they presented their work to Steve Jobs for his approval. Jobs played with the device, scrutinized it, weighed it in his hands, and promptly rejected it. It was too big. The engineers explained that they had to reinvent inventing to create the iPod, and that it was simply impossible to make it any smaller. Jobs stood, walked over to an aquarium, and dropped the iPod in the tank. After it touched bottom, bubbles floated to the top. “Those are air bubbles,” he snapped. “That means there’s space in there. Make it smaller.”

I got chills when I read that.  Part of me felt relieved that I didn’t work for Steve Jobs.  Another part of me felt envious that I never got to work for Steve Jobs.  A man like that can inspire you (with carrot, stick or a hybrid of both) to reach for heights you never even knew existed.

No one left behind

I was fortunate enough to have a boss like that early in my career.  His name was Steve, too.  This was when I was working for Deloitte – a huge global consulting firm.  I worked in health consulting, and we were working on a large hospital project involving 50 teaching hospitals around Australia.  I was a key relationship manager with these hospitals, liaising with them on the data they needed to dig out and provide to us as part of their involvement in the study.  Well, some of these hospitals just weren’t set up for this – they didn’t store the data in the first place, or someone who had long left the hospital had organised it and nobody knew how to get at it.  And every hospital was different – there was no template they (or I) could apply, no “one size fits all” solution.  I was spending my days in protracted phone calls with people working in basement information management centres, doing my own fair share of “inspiring”.  Alongside regular drumming of my head against a hard and unyielding surface.

One especially exasperating day, I walked into Steve’s office and told him we’d have to drop a hospital from the study.  They just couldn’t get the data required to continue.  It was hens-teeth-pullingly painful, for everyone concerned.  Especially me.  I was only 24 but I felt I was about 400 years old.  And I’ll never forget what Steve said to me.  He said “We won’t be losing one single hospital in this study.  We’ll find a way to help them give us what we need”.  It wasn’t a debate, or even a conversation.  It was just a fact.  That’s what we were going to do.  Steve’s level of certainty rolled over me like chocolate over ice cream.  I now knew, without a shadow of a doubt, the standard by which we would be operating, and we would be judged – by ourselves first and foremost, as well as by others.

No hospital left behind.

And that’s what happened.  We completed the study, many months later, with all 50 hospitals.  It took an extraordinary amount of effort, of willpower, of resourcefulness, of finding a way.  Like the Apple engineers, there was no other choice.  When you are in that situation, it is quite extraordinary what you can find.  When you have to dig deep, you can unearth something you never even knew you possessed.

So.  What on earth does this have to do with conscious shopping, style, consumption, self-expression and everything else we talk about here?

Here’s the connection:

When you set yourself up to undertake an important personal challenge, say to have a year without clothes shopping or to slay your personal shopping dragon in some other way — then you want to set yourself up to succeed.

You don’t want to unwittingly set yourself up to fail.  You don’t want to start out with a half-hearted commitment to the challenge.   A “we’ll see how it goes but if it gets too tough I may drop out” attitude.


One of the ways you can set yourself up to fail is by giving yourself an easy out.  Sure – you can do that, and let me say this. I’m a big believer in people making valid, informed choices, of which giving up can be one.

But if you truly want to succeed, then giving yourself an out just doesn’t come into the equation. You have a “one choice” viewpoint – you’ll stick at it, and you’ll prevail.

You don’t give yourself an easy out.  You don’t prepare ready-made excuses for why you’ll fail.

You believe in yourself.  You put faith in yourself.  You treat yourself with dignity and courage.

What I’ve learned is this:  One of the most important things you need to succeed, at anything, is the attitude of resilience and resourcefulness.  Of not giving yourself an out.  Of finding a way.

No air bubbles.

No hospital left behind.

If you had an attitude like that, what would you start today? 

I can I will End of story

See you next week.

Want to share?

    Subscribe Today

    and get your free assessment: Are You Addicted to Shopping?
    and free report: The 12 Secrets to Less Shopping - More Style

    8 Responses to “Never Give Up. Ever.”

    1. Wow. I wonder what our lives would be like if we didn’t compromise, aimed for excellence and shunned the mediocrity endemic in our society. I was constantly told as a child that I do things be halves, now I find it almost impossible to complete things! I wonder what came first, and is it just a self fulfilling prohecy? Well Jill, I consider this post a starting point in my own personal development, to be the best that I CAN be without compromising my self or others. I believe a can transcend this challenge and make a greater difference as a result. Thankyou xx

      • Jill says:

        Krishna – loved your comment and you’ve made my day by stopping by here and sharing. I sometimes feel that the disposable nature of what surrounds us — especially in the media and online — is part of the problem. The landscape in which we are working toward our goals doesn’t seem set up to help us hang in there, and see things through. Not working? Chuck it out! Which is not to the same as reinventing and finding new solutions to exisitng problems. And it’s also interesting how those early lessons stick with us, isn’t it? One of my favourite, slightly flip but nevertheless profound, quotes is ‘it’s never too late to have a happy childhood’… which I take to mean that we can reframe messages from the past, and start a process of rewiring how we think… it won’t happen in an instant (it’s a process, after all), but it’s possible.

        And as for the impact that you, my friend, can make on the world — well, the answer to that has to be “enormous”. You’re a special soul.

    2. Kama says:

      Fabulous post Jill. I catch myself sometimes saying the ” “we’ll see how it goes” Krishna pulled me up on that one, told me “We’ll see” isn’t good enough and she was right it, isn’t good enough. We all have the ability to change something in this world so a half hearted attitude just doesn’t cut it. I love your work and the awareness you are bringing to our “throw away mentality society” Thank you Jill.

      • Jill says:

        hi Kama – enjoyed your comment immensely. I reckon a lot of people would be able to relate to the “lets see how it goes” attitude… and there are times when that is appropriate… and of course, times when that isn’t helpful! Reading a book by the pool, yes – let’s see how far I get into it and if I doze off in the middle of chapter one, no problem. Trying to change something important in this world – not so helpful to see how it goes. Of course, it’s also important to know when the current course of action isn’t working, and to change it. Which is not the same as giving up – that’s finding a way, and that’s the smart thing to do. Glad you enjoyed this post and thank you for acknowledging the difference I (hope I) am making…

    3. Hey Jill

      Thanks for the post – and absolutely agree with your comments about working for Steve Jobs!!
      Thank you also for mentioning in your reply to Kama about knowing when something isn’t working. The challenge of course comes when trying to work out which category your challenge may be in!! But then, that’s part of what gives a journey it’s colour!!
      Thanks Jill xx

      • Jill says:

        hi Sharon – nice to see your comment here. Yes, there is wisdom/insight required to know when to push on and when to change direction and find another way. And I agree completely – this is what gives the journey so much colour and interest!

    4. Jill I remember this energy of determination and perseverance so well – it has taken me a lot of places and allowed me to create a lot of amazing changes in my life – as well as at times leading me to a space of burnout because I simply would not give up, no matter what… so I do think there is sometimes a line where you have to look at the personal cost… I have discovered nothing is worth my health!! I ended up having to use a lot of determination not to continue being the slightly insane workaholic I had become out of habit!

      • Jill says:

        Thanks Lisa! Determination and perseverance are part of the picture, for sure. And so is being resourceful and finding another path if the one you’re on isn’t working. Finding another path and giving up are not the same thing, of course! And I agree with you about one’s health – without it, what do we have? Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    Comments are now closed