Winston Churchill famously said the following to a room full of school kids: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.”
You may have seen the quote shortened a bit to simply say, “Never, ever give up.”
And indeed, to most men those sound like the most gallant words ever spoken in human history. And surely, being tenacious vis-à-vis some adversarial force working against you would appear to be the very definition of having one’s core character tested.
But here’s one other thing: You see… What Churchill also said in qualifying that statement, is far less famous, but every bit as important.
Old Winston said this: “Never ever ever … give up. Never give in. Never give up … except to convictions of honour and good sense.”
Now the Aha moment ensues….
And even as that last phrase is often overlooked, it’s actually the linchpin, that holds the entire overarching premise of the Churchill admonition together.
You see, what Winston Churchill clearly said is that: it’s not only unwise to “never, ever, ever, … give up” without regard to the circumstances — but it’s actually quite dangerous.
For example: If you are driving into a desolate desert without any gas stations for 100 miles but you suddenly realize shortly after leaving that you might not have enough fuel to make it to the next city, you’d better not press on. You’d better turn around and fill up while you can.
And if you are the CEO and have a Leadership Team to attend to and a rigorous Business Plan to execute, and you get a bad apple in your cart — you best throw it out before it spoils the whole lot.
Same when you go to war. You don’t do everything and anything to win the war but You use your Good Sense and Moral Principles to fight strong but to not fail your Foundational Morality, to not engage in Torture, and Unethical behaviours, that taint your Life, burden your consciousness, and make you an unethical and unprincipled Leader.
That’s what Churchill meant by “good sense”.
Similarly, if you get involved with a shinny trinket of a person in your business venture — only to find out that the Colleague is up to no good, or is disruptive to the Team in a way you weren’t completely informed about at first — your “convictions of honour” should enable you to pull the plug on your involvement with that person.
Fire his ass. Let go of the dead weight no matter how “Kardashian” he is. Do this quickly before the tumour metastasizes, and infects other organs in your organization. Fire them early, end the relationships, and still keep a clean conscience about it.
Do this quickly, and quit the engagement process with the Losers, without remorse — because the thing is that most of us have heard the admonition of Winston “Never, ever give up” and that’s what we’ve taken to heart.
So then, in the name of “character” and “doing what we said we would” we never, ever, ever give up … even when we know deep in our hearts that we really should.
We stay in dead-end work relationships, even after we know deep down there’s a better opportunity with someone else and a far better life mission for all involved, and for the use of our time, than dealing with people who cannot be led to the water — even if they are dying of Thirst.
It’s our Life and yet we stick with some coworkers that clearly fail us. We put up with Prima Donnas that have no place in a Team, nor do they have the experience to work with People in an Organization. In short we tend to excuse and allow things to fester because we are afraid of firing their ass off.
You don’t need to be seen as an Ogre to do the right thing and compassionately execute what’s bet of the Organization. That is the cost of Leadership. Still many of us put up with slightly or outright crazy, damaged or even abusive employees / girlfriends / wives / bfrieds / colleagues / executives / etc, in the name of “optimism” which we believe to be a universal hallmark of character, only to find out that we are really taken advantage of, or that we are truly exploited, and unequivocally misled.
To be a man of character means to never neglect your principles and beliefs. And of course to be strong. Strong and courageous. The Men who abandon self-respect in the name of allegedly demonstrating “character” are the true morons.
It’s an intriguing notion, isn’t it?
Because ultimately, when we hang in there for ever, even as it’s readily apparent to everyone around us, that we’re hurtling towards total destruction — we must recognize that we’re simply being stubborn. When someone destroys your company, community, group, partnership, or the very Life you lead — You need to cut them off.
Choosing selective blindness and accepting our lot to put up with “Losers” in our workplace who demand all the attention and don’t produce a lick of work — is a defeatist “stubbornness” and not a building block of solid character, or success.
However by its very definition, stubbornness is indeed the act of “never, ever giving up” in the absence of “convictions of honour and good sense”.
Do you see the trick we play on ourselves? Even as we “mean well” we end up damaging our confidence, our future, our ability to attract a high quality person to replace the “Loser” and even our own business success, health, and/or the safety of those around us.
Still, some people will stand and watch everything swirl down the toilet and continue to press on anyway, even as they feel horrible about themselves and their Companies — all in the name of old Winston’s “never, ever give up”.
To blindly “never, ever give up” is to potentially check one’s very self-respect at the door in the process.
So be a Leader and fire those “Losers” clouding your Life, and cluttering up the office.
This is being a True Leader, and a non quitter, because in reality, you’re only a quitter if you give up when all “convictions” and “good sense” indicate that you really should press onward.
Checking ourselves to make sure we’re exercising “convictions of honour and good sense” is what helps up retain our self-respect, even as we demonstrate good character.
In cases where it make no sense to carry on, or when it challenges your very moral fiber, then retaining your own self-respect is what a man of character should do.
Self-respect is TRUE character in those situations, even if those factors seemingly conspire to cloud the main issue … which is ALWAYS to do the right thing.
That’s how Winston Churchill became the most important Man in the World and that’s How he beat the beastly Germans and won the War.
He never failed to embrace Courage with Principle alike.
Do You see how that works?