April 26, 2021

Don’t Quit Before It’s Too Late

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There is always a time to call it quits. But when is that time? For many of us, in many of our pursuits, it comes sooner than it should. Sooner than is required for mastery, prominence, and the total rewards available. 

If you follow baseball – I don’t – you may have heard the story of Randy Dobnak, a former high school all-conference pitcher turned Uber driver in the independent baseball scene. Despite his excellent career in high school, no Division I teams recruited him. 

Instead, in 2013 he attended a small Division II school in West Virginia, where he continued to win multiple all-conference awards. He was good, but was he good enough? Cue the 2017 MLB draft; of the 1,200 players drafted that year, Dobnak wasn’t one of them. Many players would just start their non-baseball careers or go coach somewhere.

Enter the Utica Unicorns, a small independent league team in Michigan. A league where most players make $700 a month and live with host families like it is a church missions trip. No MLB talent scouts would come to watch, and there was no way to predict or plan what happened next. He did this just for his love of the game. 

Enter Youtube and the Minnesota Twins

Randy’s dad decided to start videoing Randy’s games and post the highlights to Youtube. Eventually, in 2017, a talent scout for the Minnesota Twins saw the ‘tapes’ and offered Dobnak a minor league contract. 

This twist may feel like success to the uninitiated in baseball, but it is merely a tiny step forward. A minor league contract earns you a whopping $1,000 a month and a $500 signing bonus. But you are in the pipeline for the majors, a little league victory compared to the prospects of the independent league. 

Dobnak continued to perform well consistently, and in 2019 was called up to play in his first Major League game against the New York Yankees just months after driving his last session for Uber. 

After a solid showing throughout 2020, Randy Dobnak signed a 5-year extension worth 9.25 million dollars with options and incentives worth up to 30 million. A far cry from driving for Uber and living with host families. 

A Time to Quit, A Time to Carry On

It is probably fair to say many of us would have given up at multiple stages in Randy’s journey. I can only imagine that many people in his life publicly told him so or privately thought so. Such a colossal reward is unlikely to come to you for continuing to hone your hobby into a career, but the odds of success are probably even lower in baseball. 

The point is there are rewards for pushing through the voice that says to quit – a voice that is quick to start nagging us to stop when growth isn’t easy, and no clear path to success. 

When Should You Quit

Unless you are building the next Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme – or something else entirely illegal – don’t quit the first time you want to. Full stop. 

If everyone quit when it was hard, or when they were rejected, or when they went unnoticed, we wouldn’t have iPhones, The Starry Night, or forty Stephen King novels. 

Here are some things to consider next time you want to quit:

  • Is your heart still in it? Will it be again? In other words, do you still have passion for the work?
  • Are the potential rewards more significant than the work? (Note, this doesn’t always mean money or fame.)
  • Can you see the ideal ending? Does that prospect get you excited? 
  • Is the potential personal growth that comes from sticking with your project a form of success? You don’t always have to win to win. 

If you read through that list and find yourself unable to defend your hobby, skill, business, or side-hustle, it may be time to think about quitting. 

But wait! We often exhibit emotional A.D.D. Give yourself a few days or weeks to evaluate again. 

We all feel like quitting sometimes, but like Randy Dobnak, sticking with your project longer than seems reasonable often contains rewards that far exceed the pain put in. 

Don’t quit before it’s too late!

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