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Quitting versus defeat

You are not defeated until you quit

Not defeated until you quit


Quitting versus defeat

Are you defeated?

I ran across the saying on the pin above from an email someone sent to me about quitting, defeat, and giving up. I won’t say I’m a big fan on Richard Nixon as a politician, but he was quite wise in many ways. You need to stop and really look at the quote. Think about it and then take it apart.

The first sentence says a lot. “A man is not finished when he is defeated.”

Definition of finished

The definition for finished is:  1. Someone who is finished with something is no longer doing it or dealing with it or is no longer interested in it. 2. Something that is finished no longer exists or is no longer happening. 3. Someone or something that is finished is no longer important, powerful, or effective.

Think about what is meant by finished in that one sentence. It could be any one of the definitions but because you are no longer doing something or dealing with it, does that mean you are defeated. If it is no longer important, you definitely aren’t defeated as there is no power over you from what you were doing.  Think about it. If you are finished with a confrontation, are you defeated?

Definition of Defeat

Defeat means:  1: beaten or overcome; not victorious; “the defeated enemy  2: disappointingly unsuccessful; disappointed expectations and thwarted ambitions, synonyms: balked, beaten, bested, checkmated, conquered, crushed, licked (Inf.), overcome, overpowered, overwhelmed, routed, thrashed, thwarted, trounced, vanquished, worsted.

This is a more complicated concept. Defeat means you lost. You were unsuccessful in what you were doing. You didn’t win and were overpowered by your opponent, no matter who or what it was or had been. Who ever you were against, you were bested. It happens in sports, jobs and life. You don’t get to win them all. Defeat only means that you will appreciate the victories all the more when you get them.

This means you can be defeated, but not finished. You can continue to strive to win, to get better, to do better. Because you are defeated, you don’t have to give up, instead you keep trying.


The last part of the quote is profound. “He is finished when he quits.”

I’ll agree that there are times when you need to quit, evaluate your options and take another path. BUT when you quit, you are finished and defeated. It is okay on those occasions when you need to regroup and figure out a better alternative. But you can’t make quitting a life long action. There are those times when you graciously accept defeat and move on. It is the moving on many people forget about. If you don’t move on, you have not learned from the confrontation or situation.

Example one

Here is an example:  You take this wonderful job. There are all these promises, and it is new and fun until you discover your new boss is a total jerk. The promises were all hot air. You despise what you are doing since it isn’t what you thought you were hired to do. No one is working as a team and they are all out for themselves.

With all of that, you are told you will be fired if you don’t fall inline with a project you disagree with and goes against your ethics. What do you do? Go ahead and do as they want or admit defeat, and quit? In this case, I’d personally tell them to stuff the job and leave, regardless of the money and benefits. (I have done that but for different reasons which were putting my career on the line.) Life is to short to waste doing something you hate, is against your morals, or you feel is ethically wrong.

With that example, you were defeated (You can’t fight city hall type of defeat), finished (You are done with the mess) and quit (you chuck it all to move onto something better). All of those are not bad things, but are choices you have to make at times. You learned that the particular place is not somewhere you will ever work again while keeping your standards and ethics intact. There are other jobs out there for you, meaning you aren’t finished with working, only that particular job.

Example 2

In a different scenario:  You loose your job. Your car is repossessed. You are in danger of losing your house. In this scenario, if you quit, you will lose everything. You are defeated in that you are on the edge of existence, but you aren’t finished.

What you do is to take two low paying jobs. The wife finds a job she can do while the kids are in school. You walk to work as you can’t afford the bus or another car. When offered a better job, you take the offer and stick with it until you move to another better job you like, etc.

In other words, you work you way out of the hole. You don’t quit or give up. Even though you had multiple setbacks, but you didn’t let them defeat you to where you quit trying. You weren’t finished with what you needed to do to survive.

End thoughts

The bottom line is that quitting isn’t always bad. You have to look at it in context. Anyone can admit defeat and quit, but they need to move on to something better. You don’t sit there and say poor me and become a victim. When that happens, you are finished with what could be if you didn’t quit. You quit trying and that is the key. You can’t quit trying .

For this next year, plan what you want to accomplish for the year. Break it down into monthly steps on how you are going to get there. Take those steps and put them into weekly goals. From there, plan your days to meed the weekly goal. Before you know it, you will make your yearly goal. It’s that simple and that complicated but most people will quit because it takes discipline. Discipline is a learned thing. It is something you have to practice daily by getting rid of the excuses for why you aren’t doing your daily goals which will lead to your end goal.  According to George Washington Carver “90% of the failures in life are those who have the habit of making excuses.”

Wishing you the best of the New Year

B.A. Mealer

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