The Most Important Part of Your Story

There comes a point in every story when you are ready to quit. It could be a relationship, a project, or your job. Regardless, you’ve had enough, and you are ready to “throw in the towel.”

An Executive Sitting on the Stairs of the Company After Getting the News He Was Fired - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/THEPALMER, Image #7255442

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/THEPALMER

My friend, Donald Miller, discusses the temptation to quit in his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In a chapter called “The Thing About a Crossing,” he describes something called a “story arc” or trajectory. This is the dramatic outline that nearly every great story—including yours—follows.

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Here’s how it works. You start off fast, visualizing the destination. Everything seems easy. You are a little surprised but soon become over-confident. You think, This isn’t so hard. I’ve got this nailed!

But, inevitably, you come to the middle of the story. Suddenly, things get difficult. You’re working hard, but you don’t feel you are making progress. You feel trapped: You’ve come too far to go back, but you aren’t sure you have enough resources to finish.

Eventually, you push through and reach the destination. But then you realize that the destination isn’t that important. Instead, it is what happened to you on the journey—how you have changed and what you’ve become.

From this quick outline, you can see that the really important stuff happens in the middle. Don describes it this way,

[People] come out of college wanting to change the world, wanting to get married, wanting to have kids and change the way people buy office supplies. But they get into the middle and discover it is harder than they thought. They can’t see the distant shore anymore, and they wonder if their paddling is moving them forward. None of the trees behind are getting smaller and none of the trees ahead are getting bigger. They take it out on their spouses, and they go looking for an easier story” (p. 179)

Are you looking for an easier story? Are you ready to quit?

I was. In the 90s, I owned my own business (with a partner). We loved being in control of our own destiny. We didn’t have to answer to anyone else. We had some initial success, and I alternatively thought, This is a piece of cake, and, We must be pretty good at this. I was pretty full of myself.

But then we hit a rough patch. The business wasn’t so easy. A few big transactions fell through. A couple of clients fired us. Although we were able to pay our employees, we had to forego paying ourselves—several times. It didn’t seem that we could do anything right.

I remember coming home one day and telling Gail that I just needed to lay down for a few minutes before dinner. I went to my bedroom and plopped down on the bed. I wanted to cry but couldn’t. I was numb. I had a wife, five kids, a mortgage and a bunch of bills. I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t. I felt stuck.

Eventually, we made it through. It wasn’t easy, and it took longer than I had hoped. But then I realized that it wasn’t about getting there. It was about what was happening along the way.

I have had many other opportunities to practice “not quitting.” I find that what I usually need is just a little perspective. I start by asking myself these questions:

  1. Am I taking care of myself? If I am not getting sufficient rest, nutrition, and exercise, it will affect my attitude. I will have fewer resources for managing the challenges I am facing. In fact, sometimes a good night’s rest can completely change my attitude.
  2. Am I asking the right questions? Questions are very powerful. However, they are a double-edged sword. If I ask the wrong ones, I will be left disempowered and depleted.

    Instead, I try to ask question like one the following:

    • What does this situation make possible?
    • What do I like about this relationship/project/or job?
    • How does this challenge provide a way for my leadership or character to grow?
    • What is really at stake here and why do I need to finish?
  3. Who can give me some perspective on this? Usually, it’s my wife, Gail. Sometimes, however, I need the counsel of my pastor, a trusted friend, or even a therapist. The bottom line is that you need someone who can provide objectivity and help you see the forest from the trees.

The older I get, the more I see the need to “stay in the story.” It’s always tempting to throw in the towel. But when you do, you miss the most important part of your story—the middle.

Questions: What did you lose by quitting? What did you gain by not quitting?
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  • http://Www.walkingwithangels.wordpress.com Sara

    It’s easy to just give up but it is when we dig in our heels and perserve that we see the real rewards.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      So true. The challenge is remembering that in the middle!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/nascarwriter Bob Margolis

    Sometimes you have to look yourself in the face and ask yourself exactly if it is really worth it and why you are doing it. And if the answer is ego, then it's time to walk away. I've just done that with a major project that I've spent the last year and a half working on.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Sometimes that is necessary, for sure.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      "Success is only another form of failure if we forget what our priorities should be.” -Harry Lloyd

      Spot on Bob. For many of us, we may realize that the ego that drove us in college is no longer the driver we want to feed. As a result, we find a better goal. This does not necessarily mean quitting, but adjusting your objectives. I know my priorities changed and with them, my objectives. Thanks for sharing.

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  • http://www.anewlifehartz.blogspot.com Lindsey @ A New Life

    I've rarely looked for an "easier" story; but I certainly have been guilty of wanting a clearer answer that lined up with MY hopes & dreams. As I've grown emotionally and spiritually, the most important thing I've learned to keep from wanting to give up when nothing seems to go as I has hoped is that everything has already been laid out for me, and my attitude and heart needs to be in a constant state of "What is God trying to teach me through this?"

    Blessings,
    Lindsey

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I’ve often wanted clarity to. I rarely get it until long after the dust settles. Part of this same story (which I didn't tell) is that I didn't understand why one of the clients fired me until years later. It had nothing to do with me. I was just collateral damage. However, at the time, I took it very personally.

  • http://29lincolnavenue.com Stacey

    I have been thinking lately about wanting to be steady and not quit. I have been thinking lately about how it is a marathon, not a sprint. But what I forgot, was that it really is about what happens on the journey! I am not by nature a lover of process. But really, that is what life is! We have a destination, but right now we are 'becoming'.

    Loved this! Thanks so much for the perspective today!

    Stacey

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      The marathon analogy is so perfect. There comes a point in every run when you hit the mid-point and think about quitting. Pat Williams, former general manager of the Orlando Magic, was once running the Boston Marathon with his daughter. At about mile 21, she asked her father, “Why are we doing this?” He famously replied, “To practice not quitting.”

  • http://www.godhungry.org Jim Martin

    Michael, this is a very good post. Can I ever relate to this! I especially appreciate the practical suggestions at the end. I don't know that any one suggestion is more important than the other two, however, I especially appreciate the first.

    I have found that self-care is so incredibly important, especially when I am in the "middle." Sleep, exercise, eating right, and staying attentive to the needs of my soul produce much needed energy at critical times.

    Great post. Thanks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I often say to wife, "If I can get enough sleep, I think I can deal with almost anything.” But without it, even minor annoyances become a problem.

  • Ron Edmondson

    This is one of your best posts ever. Perhaps I feel that way because I can identify with it so well. I wrote a post about my number one lesson for leaders when things are difficult: Don’t run! Thanks Mike!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ron. That means a lot coming from you!

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/culturesmithconsulting culturesmithconsulting

        I agree with Ron on this one Mike. The thing I love about this post in particular, is that it shows you're human. So often when I read your posts I think, "Wow! Mike has got it together." And you do. Incredibly so. I'm challenged to be better because of your words and your example.

        But (and I say that not in the "in Dale Carnegie 'but' negates everything prior to what you've said" kind of way), but when I see this, I see a person who struggled. Fear, demands, bills, frustration. All there – all great parts of a story. I can relate and I bet a lot of other people can too.

        God will use this to bring great encouragement to many who are at crossroads.

        • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Cheryl. Most people who are successful have just failed more than the rest of us. I have made so many mistakes, it's really a miracle I have survived!

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Thanks for a very timely post, Mike. I've been in a public speaking organization called Toastmasters for over ten years. In that time, I've found myself wanting to quit numerous times. It might be a bad speech or someones hurtful evaluation. It might be the time commitment or scheduling conflict. But over the years I've found that overcoming these objections and fears has led to so many incredible opportunities that I never would have had if I had quit along the way. There truly is a great reward from being persistent.

    As far as perspective goes, Seth Godin has a powerful little book called "The Dip," that helps you figure out if you are on a solid path but just encountering a dip in the road, or if you are on a dead-end cul-de-sac with no hope of success. This book is a great guide to help you evaluate situations from a different perspective. It can help you "power through" the dip or make a logical decision to quit. Very helpful addition to anyone's library.

    BTW… your blog is a great place for perspective too. Your comment section has so much encouragement and real life examples that really help when you are facing discouragement or doubt. Thanks for the persistence to keep this going!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      "Your comment section has so much encouragement and real life examples that really help when you are facing discouragement or doubt." I agree, Like the ones from John Richardson. Thanks for being part of it and sharing. I found Toastmasters to be an excellent organization for overcoming many forms of adveristy as well.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your comments, John. You have become a regular part of this community and always make such a positive contribution. I love that!

      I need to read The Dip. In fact, I just pulled it off my shelf and put it on my desk, as a reminder to read it.

  • http://www.lorisreflections.com Lori

    I love how God leads me to a post at the time I need to read it. I could write a book in the comments on why, instead I will just say THANKS.

  • http://livingsingleinamarriedworld.com Princess L

    Thank You Michael!

    It is amazing how timely your posts are. I'm in the middle of a career transition right now. When I started it all seemed possible, exciting, challenging, and wonderful. Now, however, it seems close to impossible, tedious, challenging, and almost worthless. The reality is that it IS possible, exciting, challenging, and wonderful. It is also not where Satan would like for me to be. So, I can continue to let him influence my attitudes and decisions or I can overcome by taking care of myself, asking the right questions, and getting someone else's perspective so that I get the correct answers.

    THANK YOU!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      What a motivational way to frame it Princess – the Middle could be you vs. the enemy. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/fghart fghart

    In My Utmost for His Highest Oswald Chambers points out that when God has given us a glimpse of His vision for us, He then takes us to the valley and batters us into the shape He needs for us to fulfill that vision. It's through those trials that we grow. I've been reminding myself of this as I've struggled through the last 8 or 9 months. Is it time to quit and move on to the next thing or am I in training, not yet prepared for what's next in my life?

    Daily prayer time is helping tremendously. At least I'm finding peace in these difficult situations.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      Great addition fghart, thanks for sharing. I've been considering that book for a while. I guess I know what's next on my reading list.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That is such a great, perspective-giving book. Another one is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I highly recommend it.

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/fghart fghart

        Yes! I absolutely agree. I read Jesus Calling last year and was blown away by how often a reading hit me over the head with immediate application in my life.

  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    I so relate – now two years into blogging 5 days a week I have grown weary. It's the life changing stories I receive in my email box that keep me going.

    I blog as a hobby, it's non-profit – so it all has to flow from the heart of ministry…I didn't care about stats in the beginning at all – now I do and I hate that! I didn't know much about social media when I began and now I"m so attached I feel guilty when I'm not on it and "connecting". Every article I read seems to tell me "you must be on social media or you're blog is doomed!" lol!

    This Sunday we had communion in church – my blog came to mind while I held the cup in my hand and I thought – why in the world am I blogging? I looked down at the cup and remembered my reward – it's my sweet Jesus – he is worthy of all my time and efforts. One thing I am sure of – this is where he wants me during this season of life – so I will persevere!

    Courtney

  • http://www.epicparent.tv Chris Spradlin

    I am living in this season now, my wife, Jodie, came through strong last night w/ vision and direction…I love her insight into my heart. thanks for sharing your story, would love to hear one day what you learned about your character and what about your thinking changed when you walked through this season…

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It seems like all of these experiences for me are about learning humility and patience. I guess I am a slow learner. ;-)

  • http://www.colleencoble.com Colleen Coble

    Wow, what a great post! Novel writing itself is like that. We call it the muddled middle where you can forget where you're going in the story. I've been on a journey to lose weight for over a year now and I've gone through exactly this same process. I can see the shore now though and I've almost made my goal. My body hasn't changed as much as I have inside though. Super timely and true post!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Writing is so like that. I always feel it right about when I get my manuscript back from the editor. I thought I was done, but I was only half finished. Argh.

  • http://geoffreywebb.com Geoff Webb

    “…even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand, I know now folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.”

    -Samwell Gamgee

    (I think reading stories – fiction & nonfiction is a great way to keep faith & maintain perspective.)

    • http://modernservantleader.com/ Ben Lichtenwalner

      Great reference Geoff. Thanks for sharing. I'm adding that one to my reference list for leadership.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I LOVE that scene in Lord of the rings. The whole movie is about the middle of the story. It's one of my all-time favorites (maybe my VERY favorite).

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Really thought provoking post. Reminds me a little of "the dip" that Seth Godin talks about but in a different way.

    No doubt that the middle is the hardest part. Perspective is everything, so is trust. I think the hardest aspect is that you don't know you're in the middle until you're way past it and have the ability to reflect, see, and connect the dots.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You're the second person to recommend The Dip to me. It's here sitting on my desk. I have to read it!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/aprilkarli April

    The part about asking the right questions is key for me. When my questions are negative — is this worth it? how much longer can i go on? etc. my energy is depleted and my attitude becomes increasingly negative. The questions you suggest can help see the growth and potential for me coming out of a difficult situation.

    I loved A Million Miles!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Agreed. I think this is why Jesus asked so many questions. They really have the power to shift your mental outlook.

      I'm glad you liked A Million Miles. I loved it!

  • Rhonda Purtee

    Smack dab in the middle. It certainly doesn’t feel like I’m making progress, but I will continue running the race with patience.

  • http://robertgtaylor.com Robert G. Taylor

    Excellent post. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have been working 12 hour days for a week and feel tired and worn. Your questions really are fog-cutters and I appreciate both the perspective and encouragement.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It's easy to get into that rut. I know first-hand!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/swmackey swmackey

    There have been times when I gained by quitting… Simply because I had become single tracked and driven toward the wrong thing. When I paused and wondered what was wrong, I saw that I was on a dead-end track. It was difficult to change tracks but once moving again, I now know the signs and stay vigilant. Thanks for posting this Micheal – I appreciate your perspective and willingness to help me think through things.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      Good point swmackey and similar to Bob's above. Like the two of you, I agree there seems a critical point at which our priorities may change as well. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Yep, I agree. There are times when quitting is the best thing. The challenge is knowing when to quit and when to keep going.

  • Butch Davis

    Chip Ingram once said…"We'll never know the price of a lack of discipline!" As with many things in life…there are times when we must do it out of discipline not out of desire. What did I lose by quitting? Regret of what might have been or could have been if I had been disciplined to stay the course! What did I gain by not quitting? The ability to hold my head high, even through the pain, knowing that GOD is the ultimate orchestrator of my life! Great Stuff Michael!

  • Tracy Atcheson

    Thank you. I really needed the encouragement offered in this post. I am in the middle of the story and periodically struggle with discouragement. Just know that I am not on the journey alone and that others have trod there, helps tremendously.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I often realize that the only way I can lose is to quit. If I keep going, it will turn out okay. All of us get discouraged—ALL of us. It does help to know that we are not alone. (And you aren't!)

  • http://www.allhandsondeckbook.com Joe Tye

    Everything can look like a failure in the middle!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      Great point Joe. Unless, of course, you realize you are in the middle as it is happening, right?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think you just said in one sentence what it took me a post to express. ;-)

  • http://visiodeicommunity.org David Zook

    Three thoughts …

    1. Adversity is always temporary.

    2. Everyone goes through it.

    3. It separates the men from the boys.

    What ever situation that you find yourself in, there has been someone that has gone before you and made it to the other side. This gives us hope in the midst of being in the middle of our story and proves that it is temporary.

    There is a community of people out there who has gone through exactly what you are going through, find them. They will help guide and comfort you.

    Tough times separate those who want it from those who think they want it. Successful people are born from adversity.

    So, consider it a joy my brothers when you encounter various trials, knowing the the testing of your faith produces endurance and let that endurance have its full effect, that you will be complete, lacking in nothing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You should write a post with that exact outline. You are exactly right!

  • Michael C

    This post is so timely and appropriate for me. I think there is a definite difference between quitting and moving on from something so that you can grow and finish your journey. It’s not about the right job, but about being on the right path that God has set for you. Thankfully I have been following your 3 points listed at the end. Following # 3 is paramount for young leaders.

  • http://www.therextras.com BarbaraBoucher OTPhD

    A good post for me personally today, too. Thank you, Michael.

    I see parents of children with disabilities struggle in a similar way as depicted for job struggles. Especially parents who are in the post-college, pre-30 stage of their life. The 'right' questions are most likely different. Can you opine on whether this might be a book for their situation?

    Does his book lead in the direction of discernment through faith?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      There might be a book here. I think the best leaders, lead through asking great questions. Frankly, I am not as skilled at it as I should be. My wife and daughters are great at it, and I am learning a lot from them.

      Ultimately, I think asking the right questions provide the gift of perspective, which is usually enough to get you through.

  • http://jimkane.wordpress.com Jim Kane

    MIke, I am needing to stay in the story where I am right now until God says otherwise. The gain is unknown, except for the peace of obedience. The loss is also unknown, except for the loss of the peace of obedience. A great post. Thanks!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      And that peace of obedience is enough. We may never know why in this life, but it is still worth it.

  • http://www.LandedGentryBlog.com Brian Gentry

    Great word this morning. I know there are many of us in the middle of our "story" who are really benefiting from this encouragment and practical advice.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/sheriboeyink Lynn Rush

    Wow. Inspiring post. I needed to hear this today.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/marydemuth marydemuth

    Stunning, helpful, brilliant post. Thanks Mike for sharing your journey.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mary. I am humbled that you would say this.

      • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/marydemuth marydemuth

        Both my hubby and I adored Miller's book. It's been helpful to us as we counsel others and we consider the adventure God is bringing is on. I tell everyone about the book!

  • http://www.facebook.com/sjcushman Susan Cushman

    Very helpful post, Michael. I read the other comments before writing my own, and I think Colleen and I must be soul sisters, because my first thought was also about how this applies to writing a novel. My work-in-progress is my fourth attempt at writing a book-length piece, and the emotional highs and lows mirror real life, for sure. Also about the struggle to lose weight. Your words apply to the hard work of staying in a marriage (we just celebrated 40 years last month) and hanging in with your church/faith in dark times. And like Jim, I especially needed to hear your first suggestion–to take care of myself with rest, nutrition and exercise. Thanks for all of this.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      As the husband of one wife (32 years) and five daughters, I think most women need to be encouraged to take care of themselves. Women are such natural caregivers, that they will do it to their own detriment. It's like the flight attendant's instructions: Put on your own oxygen mask first, before you try to help someone else. (I have to remind myself, too.)

      Thanks for commenting.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/mcadesigns mcadesigns

    This is exactly what I needed to read this morning. I'm in some "middle" places right now and fighting a feeling of hopelessness. This post encourages me to believe in the journey rather than contemplate the hope at the end of it. Thanks.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good. Hang in there. The story is not over, and the best stories have middles that look impossible. (This is why it is so worth reading Donald Miller's book. If you will email me your mailing address, I'll send you a free copy: michael dot hyatt at gmail dot com.)

  • Scott

    Thank you, Michael. I'm 42 and fifteen years into my career and the subject matter of this post has never been more true than now. For the first time in many years I am applying for a job and it feels monumental. Questions 1-3 are right on and will serve as a great reference point for me to revisit throughout this process. Thank you again.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Laurinda Laurinda

    Great post today! It's hard being on the road less traveled. This is an encouragement to stay there. Thanks!

  • http://www.MindingGaps.com Thomas Lee

    Michael:

    Your question "What does this make possible?" is especially potent. I have been using it personally and professionally for a couple of years now (with due credit to you), and I have shared it with friends who are going through trials and tribulations of their own. It really throws new light on a situation.

    Tom

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I think that is my favorite question. Another one I really is this: “What is really at stake in this situation?” In every story, there is something significant that can be lost or gained. It all hinges on whether we stay in our story and keep contending for what is important.

  • Kevin Bullard

    Michael — thanks for sharing your "middle." I've only known you as CEO Michael. I had never heard of your difficulties. All the sudden, you seem much more touchable and human to me. I feel I can relate to you know. I feel like you know what I'm going through. Again, thanks for sharing your "middle."

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      You're welcome, Kevin.

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Domeij

    Wow! Am I seeing the Robert McKee Story Seminar for screenwriters, TV writers, novelists, and playwrights that Donald attended in the story line of that book? I gave up pursuing my goals and dreams to support my husband's ministry, only to have him betray and discard our marriage and family. When propelled into single parenting, against my will, with a 9 month old and 3 year old, death would have been a welcome relief.

    The only thread holding me to reality? My children. You are so blessed to have your wife. I LOVE how you always affirm her publicly. When curled into a fetal position sobbing, terrorized and wanting to give up, I realized: God is all I have—and that’s enough. I sang praise songs as an offering to God. Another betrayal by people-who-call-themselves-Christians nearly crushed me again.

    What am I most grateful for in my life’s plot line? How God used the lowest points to change me along the way and reveal his faithfulness, even when God’s presence went unrecognized by me. And I love and praise El HaNe'eman, The Faithful God, (Deuteronomy 7:9). What kept me from quitting? Continually reminding myself of who God says he is. I love the names of God. He’s proved time and again to be a reliable husband, protector and provider.

    I did have a laugh out loud moment regarding the “Am I taking care of myself?” part of your post. I was sleep deprived for years, as are many single parents, who comfort wounded, frightened children at night, then rise to work 2-3 jobs to support them.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

      You have quite a story to share Scoti – perhaps that is why you had to (must?) get through your middle?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Scoti, thank you so much for staying in your story. It would have been so easy to bail out. In the process you have created a legacy for your children. It will affect them and the generations that follow!

  • Charlene

    This is a great post!!! Thank you.

  • http://www.faithimagined.com alisa

    I’ve been there. Every time I tell God I’m going to call it quits, He renews my strength. My roots reach down when I make the decision to continue the course. I stay stronger for each new storm because that’s when the rains come.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Me, too. It's almost like God knows how much we can take, and shows up with help at the exact moment we are ready to quit. The challenges get tougher, but only because He loves us and is committed to working out, what He has built in.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/BLichtenwalner Ben Lichtenwalner

    Another inspiring and motivational post Michael. As others stated, it has the added benefit of revealing that, regardless of what we may have thought, you are, in fact, human yourself. Thank you for continuing to serve your readers with your leadership.

    For me, I've definitely lost some great opportunities by quitting too early in the past. The lesson I've learned is to allow myself that discernment period. Focusing on the true motivation will help me stay on the right path – at least most of the time.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks your active engagement here, Ben. Your comments are a great encouragement to me, and I’m sure to others.

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/kaikunane ThatGuyKC

    I'm definitely in that "post college" category. I graduated in 2005, got married to my wonderful wife in 2006, became a dad in 2007, moved to new company in 2008, started an MBA in 2009 and began a new role at the same company in 2010.

    We've had some bumps along the way, but your 3 main questions above have been lifesavers. Also, I started reading more books, including Donald Miller's and it's been inspiring and empowering.

    Thank you again for the reminder not to quit our stories. We're probably tempted the most to quit when it just starts to get interesting.

  • http://wonderfullymade.org Allie Marie Smith

    Thanks MIchael! Great post.

    This makes me think of Seth Godin’s book “The Dip.” Last September I nearly walked away from the ministry I started in college over five years ago, but God was gracious to surround me with a phenomenal team who encouraged me, helped carry the burden and have taken ownership within the organization! Now we are truly spreading our wings and flying as we seek to make a lasting impact in the lives of young women.

    Let us persevere and “not grow weary in doing good.”

    -Allie Marie Smith
    Founder of Wonderfully Made
    Author & Speaker

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    Great post, Mike.

  • http://www.lightherlamp.com Jaycee (E.A)

    This story applies to the many different phases of life, that I cannot help but notice the extreme importance. Thanks for sharing your personal story of how you almost quit, but then had to look at your perspective again.

  • http://www.suzshaw.blosgpot.com Susie

    Michael, i think quite possibly this post was inspired just for me (o; Thanks for reminding me about the b i g g e r s t o r y! Great questions I plan on making some coffee and sitting with them for a bit.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. I find that writing really helps me sort through things.

  • http://twitter.com/JamesCartee @JamesCartee

    I am kind of in the middle of the road here myself, Mr. Hyatt. I find it interesting that you would use some textual support from one of my favorite authors and that I would find your blog entry while goofing off on Twitter one night. I am in the process of writing a book. I know that millions of people are literally trying to do the same, and those millions will also probably also say the following statement. But I believe my story will inspire people with disabilities with all that I have accomplished even though I have often been marginalized in the process that I would not be able to achieve success. I hope that completing a book will be one more chapter in my own story of success. Your entry could not have come at a better time when I needed to read something of inspiration when I may have quit this endeavor. Sometimes it is not the amount of people who will read what you write. Perhaps better said it is whether you finish and with the completion of a new work glorifying God because you knew that is what He called you to do at that very moment. The middle may be the hardest part but also perhaps the most rewarding to complete.

    • http://www.suzshaw.blosgpot.com Susie

      good stuff james…keep going.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. Most published authors share a similar story. You are not alone!

  • Chris Youtsey

    Hello Michael,

    I wonder if you have ever come across a poem called "Ithaca" by C.P. Cavafy. I think it captures much of the spirit of your thought-provoking post.

    When you set out on your journey to Ithaca,
    pray that the road is long,
    full of adventure, full of knowledge.
    The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
    the angry Poseidon — do not fear them:
    You will never find such as these on your path,
    if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
    emotion touches your spirit and your body.
    The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
    the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
    if you do not carry them within your soul,
    if your soul does not set them up before you.

    Pray that the road is long.
    That the summer mornings are many, when,
    with such pleasure, with such joy
    you will enter ports seen for the first time;
    stop at Phoenician markets,
    and purchase fine merchandise,
    mother-of-pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
    and sensual perfumes of all kinds,
    as many sensual perfumes as you can;
    visit many Egyptian cities,
    to learn and learn from scholars.

    Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
    To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
    But do not hurry the voyage at all.
    It is better to let it last for many years;
    and to anchor at the island when you are old,
    rich with all you have gained on the way,
    not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

    Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
    Without her you would have never set out on the road.
    She has nothing more to give you.

    And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you.
    Wise as you have become, with so much experience,
    you must already have understood what Ithacas mean.

    Constantine P. Cavafy (1911)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No, I have never seen this poem. It expressed the idea beautifully. Thanks for sharing it.

  • http://randyelrod.com Randy Elrod

    Great post, Mike. Thanks for your transparency…and encouragement.

    Randy

  • Andrew Scott

    Thank You Michael.

    As a young father, with another child on the way any day now, it can feel like a struggle to make it through the day. I am trying to find my calling and passion while all these other circumstances are swirling around and the responsibility to my family looms heavy on my heart.

    Recently I have started watching and participating in Robert Lewis' "The Great Adventure" with a few other men. In it he describes that life IS the adventure and we are to see it from that stand point. It has been ever so helpful. And your blog post has just been a rekindling of the fire of perseverance and enjoying the journey.

    Thank you for your ministry here.

    Andrew

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/mitchebie Mitch Ebie

    I started a graduate degree in 2004 in ministry. Many people finish the same degree in two years. However, I had a few things go wrong…quite a few things. To make a long story short, I will be finishing that graduate degree within a week of this post. By not quitting, I will be gaining a master's degree, of course, but I have also convinced myself that I have the ability to stick to something, which is perhaps just as valuable.

  • http://www.work-in-progress-online.com Work In Progress

    My marriage! It was love when we started and everything seemed to work out great. We didn't fight like most couples, we has once in a while a fight (kind of once in a year) … then we hit the middle … I was ready to trow in the towel, but my kids … will I be able to just keep moving for the kids … it took four years … then we started to be honest with each other, not wanting to change a bit the other, but accepting the differences and realizing with felt in love because we were crazy about the other's differences … we complement each other so much, but first we had to lay down the competition … we weren't against each other, but to complement each other … we have the best ever relationship, those years i would of never think …it's so worth staying in the middle of the story … one step at the time, one day at the time … we both changed, to have the relationship we have now we needed both to change … we needed that "middle" section. It was hard and painful, but we been transformed for the better … just stay in … just keep walking, you might not run for a while, just walk … slowly move even even it seems that you walk the treadmill just keep moving … you'll change and become better IF you allow God to change you through these circumstances.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.salafia Christian Salafia

    Wow.

    This is exactly where I am at the moment…"I wanted to quit, but I couldn’t. I felt stuck."

    Thank you for this.

  • http://www.justopenthebook.com justopenthebook

    Great questions to ask yourself in the midst of tough times. I think the most important factor should be your prayer life – "Lord, is this your will for me?" and if so, "Lord, show me what needs to change." Sometimes we need His redirection, sometimes just the comfort of knowing he is there with us. Cling to his promises. Test the spiritual source of your frustration. And know that if it's God's will, quitting isn't always bad. I followed God to leave the corporate world and start a Christian ministry; it has been one of the best decisions of my entire life.

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  • Joan Linbeck

    I had a recent what I call an ah-ha moment that your post has helped me clarify.
    When I am too focused on the goal of where I want to be, I forget to notice that God wants me to pay more attention to the journey towards the goal. The journey itself…is where He lives in me the most abundantly, transforming me as I rely on Him. So in the midst of a struggle that I desperately want to be over, I am trying to live for and appreciate this very moment of time on that journey. I am learning, albeit slowly and stubbornly, that there is value even in a journey with the pebbles of disappointments & failures in my shoes. Some are given the great gift of heart to be a marathoner whereas some are short-distance sprinters. Though both finish their appointed race, I suspect the joy at the end of the marathoner’s race is so much deeper. Thank you for being such a strong resource of new and insightful perspective.

  • http://refreshmentrefuge.blogspot.com Gina Burgess

    Another excellent question to put things in perspective is "Will what I am doing make a difference a year from now?" Any decision or situation that has that kind of impact is worthy of tenacity. Sadly, our society is locked into a 30-second warp. If we don't get results in 30-seconds or less our ADHD kicks in and we're off to another race.

  • http://www.buzzardblog.com Justin Buzzard

    Helpful post. Thank you.

  • http://carlestercrumpler.com Carlester Crumpler

    Very very timely post… Thanks Mr. Hyatt!

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  • http://www.givegoodux.com Joe Natoli

    This is very, very timely for me Michael….and I'm finding equal wisdom in your other posts. As I get older I am finally coming to realize that the journey is the important part…not fully there yet, but posts like this one make me encouraged that struggle is part of the path. Sincere thanks for sharing your corner of the world with us.

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  • http://jeffkclarke.com Jeff Clarke

    I love the line, “Are you looking for an easier story?” We all at one point or another feel like the ‘grass is greener on the other side.’ But, if we stay on our current path, even through the rough patches, we learn in retrospect that the rough patches actually ‘made’ the journey worthwhile. In fact, my experience has been that the rough patches provided me with the resources needed to get to the other side. And, they will prove beneficial for future chapters in life.

    Thanks, Michael. Good thoughts.

  • Joey

    Years ago Andy Andrews taught me the power of persistence. It pays to stay in the story.

  • http://twitter.com/angiemagnino Angie Magnino

    Very timely for me. It’s definitely a lot harder to regain momentum once you’ve lost it. I loved how you said that you had many opportunities ‘to practice “not quitting.” ‘ Never heard it put that way before.

  • Alicia

    I’m actually in the middle of a challenge right now (well, several, but one in particular), and this was very encouraging to me. I read Donald Miller’s book a while; I definitely need to re-read that chapter. I don’t want to quit, and I’m believing that I will persevere. But thanks for the reminder that everybody hits “the middle”, but that doesn’t make it okay to give up!

  • http://www.skingsly.blogspot.com Kingsly

    I tried to quit my faith but didnt do it and thankful for people who helped me to get the right perspective.
    Nice post. Thanks

  • Guest

    This is such a beautiful blog…thank you for sharing. Most definitely just what I need right now :)

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