HAVE you been conditioned into thinking that quitting equates to failure?

American football coach Vince Lombardi famously remarked: "Quitters never win and winners never quit." During the Second World War, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill uttered: "Never, never, never quit."

This is not always true. Quitting at the right time benefits your career and business. This contrarian fact remains: Winners do quit and quitters do win.

Your bosses often admonish you not to quit. "Put in more effort, work harder, burn the midnight oil, try harder, persist" these are the barking orders of the day.

Most who fail in quitting are emotional, reactive or serial quitters. Successful quitters know the secrets of quitting strategically.

Many of you quit, but the tiny minority who quit successfully reap enormous benefits. They belong to the unique fighters who have the guts to quit early and channel their resources into a new market.

When you first start your new job or business, you will find it fun and challenging. But after a time, if you don't have further opportunities to grow, it eventually becomes routine.

It is the period where your "busy-ness" gets you nowhere. You are drained, demotivated and feel you are at a dead end.

Once your job hits this wall, it is time to quit and move on to greener pastures. The opportunity cost of remaining at status quo is costly. Your biggest challenge is to quit and explore undiscovered territory.

Quitting is difficult for many people who are bored with their jobs but are in a comfort zone. They prefer mediocrity and suffer in silence. Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow, remarked: "We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don't have the guts to quit."

Make a smart move to quit strategically. Strategic quitting is based on making the correct choice of alternatives available to you. Create choices. In neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), if you have one choice, you have no choice.

Before you quit, plan in advance before panic sets in at the critical period. Marathon runner Dick Collins advises: "Talk yourself into quitting. If you are making a decision based on how you feel at that moment, you will probably make the wrong decision."

The best quitters plan in advance before they quit. Ask yourself two questions before you take the plunge:

* Are you panicking? If you are, you will not be able to think rationally and you may quit for the wrong reason.

* Are you stuck in a rut? If you are, you must quit and do something else. Quitting paves the way for you to venture into something new.

Be proactive instead of reactive. Paint the scenarios that will motivate you to quit for the right reasons. Brainstorm the alternatives available to you and make an informed choice.

"Calling it quits" hall of fame
Electric dreams

Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric for 20 years, made a courageous decision to sell one of his profitable billion-dollar divisions that was ranked number four by market share.

Many questioned his wisdom. His reasons? The division was at a dead end, and his executives were distracted by how to deal with it.

Welch decided to free the division's resources and energy. Across the board, he fixed, sold or closed each business unit and retrenched more than 100,000 workers.

His commandment was: If you cannot be number one or two in the industry, you must quit.

In the unpopular process of calling it quits for some business units, Welch catapulted General Electric to number one with a market cap of US$450 billion (S$612 billion) and was voted the world's top CEO.

Prescription for success

After graduating from Harvard Medical School, Michael Crichton completed a postdoctoral fellowship. His lucrative career as a medical doctor was almost guaranteed. But he followed his heart and quit medicine to become an author.

Instead of curing sick people every day, he crafted words to entertain millions of readers through his works of fiction. Today, Crichton is a best-selling author of novels like Jurassic Park and Coma.