Bill Gates has been named the world’s richest man 16 times. While he owes much of his success to perseverance, he probably owes just as much to his willingness to quit.
It turns out that the old saying, “quitters never win and winners never quit” isn’t exactly true. Many of the world’s most successful people are serial quitters.
Gates probably wouldn’t be the famous billionaire he is today if he hadn’t dropped out of college. He was a sophomore at the prestigious Harvard College when he decided to quit.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg also famously quit Harvard College to pursue his dream.
Mahatma Gandhi quit his successful career as a lawyer and went on to become one of the most famous revolutionaries in history.
According to psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch, people who are willing to quit are healthier than those who refuse to give up.
In one study the psychologists looked at two different groups of people. They called the group that was willing to give up the “Quitters” and the group that refused to give up, the “Bulldogs.”
In almost every measure of health, the Quitters performed better. They suffered less from skin disorders, poor sleep, indigestion, and headaches. They also found that the Bulldog’s stress hormones showed they were in a state of chronic stress.
Quitting doesn’t just support our health. The freedom to quit has also been statistically linked to healthier marriages. In the U.S. before the 1960s a marriage could only end in divorce if both partners agreed to it. In the late 60s and 70s this law changed so that anyone could divorce without permission from their partner. Stanford University researchers found that this new ability to freely end a marriage led to women’s suicide rates dropping by 20 percent and domestic violence rates falling as well.
Some companies even recognize that employees quitting can also be beneficial to the company. One progressive online company, Zappos even pays its new employees $1,000 to quit within the first month. Zappos believes that their company culture will benefit from employing people who are there for more than just money. Because customer service is such a big part of Zappos’ success, they need employees who are willing to go the extra mile for them. That means hiring people that have enthusiasm for the job, not just for the money.
It seems the freedom to quit is not only a basic human right, but an essential part of being a healthy human being. It’s just not true that “quitters never win and winners never quit.” Sometimes quitting is an important part of winning in the end.