Why Quitting is Healthy | Have You Quit Enough?

Bait and SwitchWhen reading the title to this post you may have thought that I might do the old bait-and-switch trick. You know, promise one thing, and deliver another.

Not quite.

It may be hard to grasp but the title is true.

At some point in life each one of us quits at something. We cut our losses, or more likely, the pain associated with the failing. It could be a game of Monopoly or Grad school, reading a book or writing one.

We get discouraged and it becomes easier to quit. It’s easier to fail than to go on with uncertainty.

We like comfort. In fact, we like it a lot.

The good news is that if you are a quitter, success is close at hand.

Really? Can that really be true?

Yes, my friend, it is true. But I wouldn’t want you to take my word on such a serious matter. I’ve compiled a list of some famous quitters.

You have probably heard of them. Each one of these folks filed for bankruptcy at some point in their life. Some several times.

Bankrupt And Back Again

Abraham Lincoln-16th President of the United States

P.T. Barnum-The Great American circus owner

Toni Braxton-singer

Francis Ford Coppola-Oscar winning film writer, director, producer

Henry Ford-Automobile manufacturer

Charles Goodyear-19th century American inventorUlysses S. Grant-18th US President, Civil War general

Tony Gwynn-baseball player

Dorothy Hamill-Olympic gold-medal ice-skater

George Frideric Handel-composer

Robert Kiyosaki-Rich Dad, Poor Dad author and professional speaker

Stan Lee-Comic book industry pioneer , co-creator “Spider Man,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “The X-Men”, etc

Jerry Lewis-comic, actor, philanthropist

George McGovern-politician

William McKinley-25th US President

Lorrie Morgan-Country music star, author

Robert Morris-Politician who financed Revolutionary War

Willie Nelson-singer, songwriter, actor

Wayne Newton-singer, actor, entertainer

Thomas Paine-Common Sense activist

Tom Petty-rock star

Susan Powter-exercise/fitness expert, talk show host, best selling American Author

Sheryl Swoopes-Three-time WNBA MVP

J. Fife Symington-Governor of Arizona (while still in office)

Nikola Tesla-Invented alternating current

Donald Trump-billionaire entrepreneur

Mark Twain-author and humorist, Huckleberry Finn author

Mike Tyson-boxer

Johnny Unitas-legendary Hall of Fame football quarterback

Oscar Wilde-acclaimed poet and author

James Wilson-U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1789-1798


Believe me, this is just a small list. I wanted to make this list one that was representative of the many different areas of life. But, you may still be unconvinced. You may be thinking that bankruptcy isn’t quitting at all. Okay, I won’t debate it with you.

“Winners never quit, quitters never win.” Right?

Sorry Vince Lombardi, that just isn’t so.

sidenote-I love Coach Lombardi but, even he, was not immune to quitting. Lombardi enrolled at Fordham Law school in September, 1938. Although he did not fail any classes, he believed his grades were so poor that he dropped out after one semester. His teams also had a 90% winning percentage in the post season.

Let me offer up more examples for your examination:

Grandma Moses quit painting early in life only to take it up again at the age of 76.

Roberto Duran is famous for quitting during a fight with Ray Leonard. (he won two titles a-f-t-e-r this fight)

Michael Jordan quit basketball to play baseball. With little chance of ever becoming an everyday baseball player, Jordan quit baseball. (he then won three more titles in basketball)

Ronald Reagan quit acting.

Steven Pressfield was hardly the only author to quit writing prior to making it big.

The list goes on and on.

Here are some more quitters:

Famous High School Dropouts

This group either dropped out of elementary school or high school:

  • H.G. Wells
  • Jim Clark
  • Jimmy Dean
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Leon Uris
  • Walter L. Smith
  • W. Clement Stone
  • Jack London
  • Arthur Ernest Morgan
  • Ray Charles
  • Cher
  • Daniel Gilbert
  • Peter Jennings
  • Ansel Adams
  • Brooke Astor
  • Lucille Ball
  • Bill Bartman
  • Whoopie Goldberg
  • Philip Emeagwali
  • Kemmons Wilson
  • Roy Rogers
  • Walter Nash
  • Sydney Poitier
  • Frederick “Freddy” Laker
  • Tommy Lasorda
  • Anton van Leeuwenhoek
  • Richard Branson
  • Isaac Merrit Singer
  • Alfred E. Smith
  • Charles Chaplin
  • Jack Kent Cooke
  • Charles E. Culpeper
  • Richard Desmond
  • Thomas Dolby
  • Carl Lindner
  • John Llewellyn
  • Marcus Loew
  • Mary Lyon
  • Horace Greeley

Want a more extensive list? Go and check out the huge list compiled at angelfire.com.

Famous College Dropouts

  • Steve Jobs
  • Bill Gates
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • John D. Rockefeller
  • Howard Hughes
  • Lawrence Ellison
  • Michael Dell
  • Marc Rich
  • Ty Warner
  • Gautam Adani
  • Micky Jagtiani
  • Azim Premji
  • Sheldon Adelson
  • Kirk Kerkorian
  • Donald Newhouse
  • François Pinault
  • Jack Taylor
  • David Geffen
  • David Murdock
  • Ted Turner
  • Henry Fok
  • Ralph Lauren
  • Micky Arison
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber



Quitters come from all walks of life. They come in all shapes and sizes.

The common bond is quitting.

You wouldn’t consider most on these lists as quitters though, would you?

But, they did.

Why don’t we see them that way?

You see, each one on this list decided at some point that they were done. They were done quitting. They may fail but it wouldn’t be by way of quitting anymore.

Was it as simple as that? Yes. They purposed to keep going despite the history of quitting. They learned from the pain. Yes, bruises are painful.

Today can be that day that you look back on. The day that you purpose to see it through at any cost.

The day that you quit quitting.

There are giants that need facing.

As always my friends…

Live it LOUD!


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59 Responses to Why Quitting is Healthy | Have You Quit Enough?

  1. jim syyap says:

    If I remember correctly, I first started chanting the “never quit” mantra when I got into sales more than a decade ago. Today, I know better. Like what you say in this article, mine is “if you don’t like it–quit early, quit often.”

    Thank you for reinforcing what I thought was right for me.

    • Rob says:

      Indeed Jim!

      Sometimes staying the course is necessary for a time. But, had Lombardi stayed the course he would have been a priest. Literally.

      Live it LOUD my friend!

  2. Ola says:

    I definitely expected this article to take another turn and talk about the typical not quitting :). I completely agree with you though, I think the most important thing is knowing when to quit, knowing when the effort will no bring and any change and moving on to the next thing. Personally i try to learn my my mistakes and pick the positives from all my experiences thats what keeps me going
    Ola recently posted..Tips For Driving In WinterMy Profile

  3. Mika Castro says:

    Hey Rob, Thumbs up on this! Quitting is really healthy. And i also like that you mentioned Monopoly as a example for quitting. I also play that game and when i lost a large amount of money and nearly bankrupt, i quit before its over.

  4. Ken Wert says:

    Such an interesting article, Rob.

    I’m not familiar with everyone on the list, but for many of them, the reason for quitting was often to choose something bigger and better. The most obvious example of that is Bill Gates. His quit was in order to start something grander than finishing the path he was on. He continued down one path so long as it served him, then switched paths once he decided the new path would better serve his long-term goals. Being committed to following one particular avenue for the sake of completing what you’ve started is demonstrably unwise if a new path calls to you and will better take you where you want to go.

    Thanks for the provocative post, Rob!
    Ken Wert recently posted..5 Beliefs that will Radically Change Your Life ForeverMy Profile

    • Rob says:

      Aha Ken! A different look. We all know how the Bill Gates story turned out, but, what if…? Did he really know that it was going to turn out better for him to quit college? Many others have done the same thing with much different results. But overall, I concede the point 🙂

      My main objective with this post is for the folks out there that see themselves in a negative light based on past quitting. I’ve never personally met a person that hasn’t quit at something. We are all human. The good news is that it can be used to become a finisher.

      None of us need be enslaved by past results. In fact, we can learn from them and use them as a source for momentous growth. Today is a new day. It does have power…if we want it to.

      Thanks for having me ponder this topic a bit more in depth Ken.

      Live it LOUD!

  5. Lyka Ricks says:

    Very informative List! I haven’t thought these famous people are once quitters but where are they now? They are on these popularity and wealthy tracks. We should not judge those who have failed but give them the chance to turn these into success. The world is round, it goes up and down!

  6. Penelope J. says:

    Hi Rob,
    Another interesting and slightly controversial post. Some surprising names on your lists. Love how you show that quitting can actually work out favorably.
    However, you also have to know when to quit, and most of these people did. Quitting is much easier early on in life when you can change course and/or go back like Michael Jordan. Quitting or declaring bankruptcy later in life is much harder.
    I dropped out of both High School and college and went on to a highly successful career in advertising, ending as an international VP. However, if I’d stayed the course, I might have begun my writing career at a much earlier stage.
    At one point, I invested all my money in a food business, then quit before I could recoup it, and decided to write books instead. I haven’t made it yet, but have no intention of quitting before I do.

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  8. Interesting point. I think that quitting mught be useful when you’re going to start everything from scratch. You just quit – and then you are fresh and anew and ready for new challenges.

  9. Ilene M. Jennings says:

    Hi Rob,

    Wow! This is my first time to read an article that tells us that it is OK to quit. But well said Rob. Some people don’t quit because of pride but I have read a book about failing by John Maxwell it said that when you fail it’s ok to stop doing that and do something else.

  10. Steve says:

    I believe quitting is useful at places when the happening of something depends on the situation and not on what you do. There was one area of my life that I tried to manage without realizing that it was all circumstances that were making things happen. So that was one area of my life that I have quit but I am happy to not make any efforts and let time decide.
    Steve recently posted..Look For Funny Stress Quotes to Fight Back Against StressMy Profile

  11. barak says:

    i promise to quit quitting, as long as it doesnt hurt me. if i didnt know when to quit when i started learning engneering, so i would not get to the great point in my life, which i study working and loving what i do!
    know when to quit, and dont quit untile u had enough :)thanks!
    barak recently posted..Dog loss quotesMy Profile

  12. Bethany says:

    Hi Rob

    I don’t think you should ever keep doing something just because you always have. Sometimes you need to look at your life and see what makes sense now. If Bill Gates hadn’t quit college we never would have had Microsoft, we may have had something else, but for Bill Gates quitting brought enormous success.
    Bethany recently posted..5 Quick Tips To Get Your Ex BackMy Profile

  13. Shanon@ReadingApps says:

    I think that quitting mught be useful when you’re going to start everything from scratch. So that was one area of my life that I have quit but I am happy to not make any efforts and let time decide.
    Shanon@ReadingApps recently posted..Free Kindle Reading AppsMy Profile

  14. Donna says:

    You are right quitting. I think it’s ok to quit on things that are less important to you. All the people in the list above quit school in order to pursue other dreams and aspirations. But they never quit on working on their goals. It’s important to know when to quit so you can pursue more important things.

  15. Annie Andre says:

    This is so timely. I had to quit updating my blog for a couple of months to get some clarity and focus on my other big goal of moving to FRance with the family and kids.
    And now that we are in France, i’ve decided to get back in the swing of things.

    I really loved this article because it almost takes away the shame involved in quitting something. There is such a negative connotation associated with quitting but sometimes i guess it is better to work smart and quit.

    Hope you are have been doing well.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Annie Andre recently posted..2011 Annual Review Looking Back: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly!My Profile

    • Rob says:

      Hey Annie,

      Great to connect with you again. I’ve been doing similar things, excepting the moving to France thing:) Quitting can be a great learning and growing tool.
      Years ago I was in the scrap metal business. It was back breaking work. A relative and friend were both looking for work and I hired them. After a short period of time they both quit.
      There were no hard feelings as I was a worker myself and realized it wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Both of them are quite successful to this day! I attribute at least a portion of this to the boot camp they endured at my place. Most professions aren’t so demanding. I think they would both agree.

      A lot of times we get caught up in being concerned with what others might think. We need to push through that nonsense. We get one go round. Life isn’t a punishment. If something isn’t working, by all means, try something else! What is there to lose?

      So glad you’re there, now our family has a place to visit when we make it over:)
      Merry Christmas to you and that awesome family of yours.

      Keep Living it LOUD my friend!

  16. Ira says:

    Hi Rob,

    Interesting point about quitting. Since childhood we were always taught that “winners never quit” or that “quitters are losers”. So this is really something different, real, and inspiring.

  17. Allaina says:

    Sometimes quitting is not a sign of cowardice. There are times that we need to quit if we see that after doing everything you can, after giving your best and still you failed then it’s time to quit and find something that where you can have the fulfillment and success.
    Allaina recently posted..Forex Capital Markets Plano Tx 75093My Profile

  18. Sophia says:

    Thank you for your sharing. Maybe some situation, we could not have any method to continue and have to quit. Just quit and give up on the right time, and we would feel better and find another light on our lives. However, we never give up the faith.
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  19. Not only was I interested in this post, but you also included Nikola Tesla, and that got you major points from me! Tesla did invent many things though isn’t much remembered today – primarily because he ripped up a contract to prevent the business from getting shut down. You could call that quitting for others, right? ;P Anyways, back to topic, The Fine Art of Quitting is something they should teach at school, I’m sure the kids would love it (cue malicious laughter).
    Daniel @ Boise Homes recently posted..Boise Real Estate- Time to Buy?My Profile

    • Rob says:

      Hey Daniel,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I believe that life is meant to be enjoyed and shared. Sometimes we put ourselves in a box without considering why we’ve done this.

      Live it LOUD!

  20. What a delightful post! I think seeing life in this way helps you to not think of those things society would call “fails” but see them as stepping stones to greatness. Awesome! You’re fueling my new year already.
    Christian Hollingsworth recently posted..How To Get Twitter Followers by the Millions!My Profile

    • Rob says:

      Hey Christian,

      Stepping stones to greatness…love that. Our talents may lie in a completely different field. We need to be able to explore and not mind zap ourselves into thinking we are failures. Life is way too short to live in this way.
      Thanks so much for stopping by my friend.


  21. David says:

    Quitting is a stepping stone to achieve success whatever it is that you are quitting..

    there is always a good outcome after quitting..

  22. Jay says:

    Hi Rob,

    I think that quitting has its place, when we realize a plan is getting us nowhere fast, then quitting it is a step in the right direction to formulate a better plan

    But quitting because something is hard is different – I have been guilty of this in the past but I see that from your lists I am in good company

    2012 is a no quitting year for me! 😀

    Thanks – Jay

  23. When things get awfully tough quitting is the solution, I do quitting in times that for me it’s over but I’m quitting such tough things for good. This 2012 I will quit and never quit for good only! 🙂

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  25. To those of us who have to decide every week or so whether to continue pursuing a failed endeavor in an attempt to turn it around, or to move on to something new, your list of successful quitters is truly inspirational.

  26. I wish we had the opportunity to interview each of those people and ask them, “how did you know it was time to quit and move on?”

  27. JennyGreyson says:

    Once we are engaging our self in a business, We are committed to face those possible challenge and we are not able to quit for good.
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  28. Farrell says:

    In this era, what everyone needs is strategy and how to apply your ideas and profit from it. Although finishing College is definitely good, it doesn’t mean that you will get rich after that. Everything is your choice and if you are currently not happy with something then quitting can be a good option.
    Farrell recently posted..The Year to Improve EyesightMy Profile

  29. sometimes I have to just tell my clients that settling (essentially quitting) can be a win in and of itself.

    Instead of always going for it all, be a west-coast offense and make progress through small victories.

  30. Rob, I couldn’t agree more!

    As a small business owner, its really hard to make these decisions sometimes, but in rare cases, a number of small quits takes the brunt off of a larger hit.

    Awesome article, the first of its kind i’ve seen!

  31. promotional clothing says:

    Bad habits are the hardest to break. I’ve never smoked but other smokers have told me it is hard to quit because of the nicotine addiction. Maybe it would help motivate you to exercise if your routine involved something you already enjoy. Example: If you like going to the mall….go for a brisk walk at the mall while you “window shop”.

  32. Matt Kinsella says:

    I think quitting and walking away from any failing project before the losses mount up too much is one of the most important lessons to learn and I don’t think anyone can ever master it completely. Every successful person will experience failure, it’s how we learn what we need to find success.

  33. Stuart says:

    I find it difficult to quit my habits but a great way to quit your habits is a good motivation and facing your self. Well read Rob thanks!
    Stuart recently posted..Tinnitus Ginkgo Biloba Treatment – Does It Cure Tinnitus?My Profile

  34. Steve Gen says:

    Great post! I never actually viewed quitting in your perspective.. I always have thought graduating high school or going to college will help me succeed in life. I still do agree and think of this as success in life, however, all the people who you listed that has quit college has already had an idea.. You showed me that quitting will lead to success or failure. Quitting doesn’t matter, it is more about motivation and the determination in life to succeed in my opinion. Thanks for this awesome post! 🙂
    Steve Gen recently posted..NX Generator V1My Profile

  35. Your article was exactly what I needed right now! I must send it to all my friends that laugh at me when I say that quiting may be one of the most useful things!! Greetings from Greece!!!
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  36. Zynga Game says:

    all the people who you listed that has quit college has already had an idea..
    I think quitting and walking away from any failing project before the losses mount up too much is one of the most important lessons to learn and I don’t think anyone can ever master it completely

  37. Leila Gantcher says:

    Quitting to learn from the pain and grow stronger and better. Clever philosophy! And it’s amazing how many known people have actually quit during their lifetime. Great blog!
    Leila Gantcher recently posted..skin reviewsMy Profile

  38. what a meaningful post! Actually, i like it very much and i think your point is quite profound. Sometimes, quitting is necessary because it help us to learn from the pain and grow stronger.

  39. Balu says:

    Quitting cigars has been very difficult for me, but lately I’m taking it very seriously, din’t smoked for more than a month now, hope it carries on.

  40. CLJ says:

    Love it.
    I’ve heard a lot of people justify persisting in activities which caused them misery, with the explanation “I’m not a quitter.”
    They kept going due to fear of a label.
    By contrast, the late great Harry Browne wrote in one of his books, “When the going gets tough, I usually go on a vacation.”

    • Rob says:

      Funny how that is, eh? We fear labels to the point of becoming the very one we feared most!
      Let’s loosen up a bit and not be so dramatic. Everyone fails.

      As Peter Drucker put it: People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.

      Thanks for stopping by, and…

      Live it LOUD!

    • Rob says:

      You get a bad hand, and you fold. Life is similar. We need not play out a losing battle. It’s okay.

      Thanks for the comment and perspective my friend.

      Live it LOUD!

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  42. Kent Morris says:

    I completely agree with you though, I think the most important thing is knowing when to quit, knowing when the effort will no bring and any change and moving on to the next thing.
    Thank you

  43. It will not possible for everytime that we wins. Some times as per the situation we have to quit. Quitting something is not a kind of shame or something else. We have to learn a lesson for every quit and make it perfect for the next time.

  44. Jessica says:

    The most obvious example of that is Bill Gates. His quit was in order to start something grander than finishing the path he was on. He continued down one path so long as it served him, then switched paths once he decided the new path would better serve his long-term goals.

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