When successful entrepreneurs tell their stories, they often speak of perseverance: Things were hard, but they did not give up. It’s an inspiring message, but it can also be misleading. “In order to succeed, you are going to have to stick to hard things,” says Annie Duke, a former professional poker player who teaches decision strategies in the executive education program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. “But also, in order to succeed, you’re going to have to quit the things that aren’t worth pursuing.”
Quitting has a bad reputation, and Duke is out to clear its name. It’s why she wrote her new book, Quit. “We should think of quitting as a virtue, a characteristic that we want to develop,” she says. That’s especially true for entrepreneurs, who may equate quitting with failure — and therefore may ignore the warning signs that their business is in trouble, in turn wasting their investors’ money, their employees’ efforts, and their own time in finding more promising ways forward. Here, Duke explains how and when it’s best to quit…or at least, to leave the option on the table.