Should I Keep Struggling or Throw in the Towel and Move On?

We are delighted to have this guest post from Srikumar Rao.

Srikumar Rao is a professor, author, consultant and TED speaker. His
work has been profiled in major media worldwide and he has been 
interviewed frequently by TV and radio networks. His course “Creativity
and Personal Mastery” was among the most popular and highest rated
at many of the world’s top business schools and is the only one to have
its own alumni association. To learn more visit

A framework that helps you decide when to keep it and when to give up.

Aphorisms and proverbs sometimes pack powerful wisdom. We are fond of quoting them and using them to guide our behavior or to explain it.

But have you noticed how many of them contradict each other?

​​​​We should “Look before we leap”
but, unfortunately,
“He who hesitates is lost.”

“Many hands make light work”
but, alas,
“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

“Wise men think alike”
“Fools seldom differ.”

 “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”
unless, of course, you are
“Out of sight, out of mind.”

 “The pen is mightier than the sword”
except in the land where
“Actions speak louder than words.”

And that brings me to a dilemma that we all face sooner or later.

We are stuck in a situation that is suffocating and sucks the energy out of us as thoroughly as an efficient Dementor.

Perhaps it is a job we hate though we have tried our level best to ‘learn’ and ‘stay motivated.’

Perhaps it is a marriage in which we are stifled and we try to be sensitive to our partner’s needs but are both miserable and unfulfilled.

Maybe we have started a business and it is going nowhere in a hurry and we have tried everything we know and are running out of funds to keep the lights on.
​​​​​​Do we keep at it with all the vigor we can muster with our dispirited soul because victory comes to those who persist and never give up?

Or do we conserve our energy and quit the battlefield so we can live to fight another day?

Everyone who has taken Creativity and Personal Mastery has grappled with his – or her – version of this dilemma. Many have asked me for help and advice.

​​​​​​​We have been told over and over again that persistence is a virtue. There are tales galore of how someone was struck with all manner of adversity but hung in determinedly and eventually achieved great success.

​​​​​​​In my program I have a module where I show participants that an ‘intolerable’ situation is so largely because we have defined it in that manner and reinforced this ‘label’ with our mental chatter and mental models.

​​​​​​​And many have reported that with a change in thinking that toxic situation became bearable, even enjoyable.

​​​​​​​We also have a module where I point out that one of the ways in which the universe signals to us that it is time to make a change is by making us miserable where we are.

​​​​​​​So where does this leave you and what should you do in your particular position?

​​​​​​​I can give you a framework to use in such situations.

​​​​​​​Most of us tend to ask “What should I do?”

We desperately try to think of the ‘Pros and Cons’ of each course of action somehow balance and evaluate and compare them in a convoluted manner.

​​​​​​​Instead of this, ask “Who am I being?”

​​​​​​​Take an example: If you believe you are stuck in a toxic job environment, then you are being a victim of external circumstances and indulging in self-pity. You are also being me-centered and definitely not in an emotional domain of appreciation and gratitude.

​​​​​​​Is this where you want to be?

Assuredly not.

​​​​​​​So who do you want to be?

You want to be a person who is calm and serene, grateful for the many things in her life and willing to work hard to ‘fix’ the areas where your preferences are not being met.

​​​​​​​Think about who you want to be and then pour your emotional energy into that being. In other words BE the person you want to be.

​​​​​​​This takes a bit of practice but it is not as hard as you may think it is. Initially, there will be a feeling that you are kidding yourself or playing a game but this will pass. You will actually be able to, at least for the time being, become who you want to be.

​​​​​​​Now ask yourself what this person would do in your situation. And the answer will pop out easily.

​​​​​​​You may decide to remain and try harder. You may decide to quit and go elsewhere.

​​​​​​​It does not matter.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Because here is a great truth for you to ponder:

Who you are being is MUCH more important that what you are doing.


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