Quitting to Win

I’m a quitter.

I’ve quit jobs. More than once.  Five times, actually, over the course of my career.  Maybe six.  I forget.

This, apparently in the eyes of some, makes me a loser.


“Quitters never win and winners never quit,” they say.

So, that would mean I never win.  Which means I lose.  Which would make me a loser.


I quit my first job, at VH1, after two years.  I logged tapes all day long and wasn’t particularly excited about that.  I typed fast – 80 words per minute – and was so valuable in this capacity that while other production personnel got to go on field shoots and to the edit room, I was asked to stay behind to log interviews and b-roll in my same speedy manner.

I had no plan for what was next, only the idea that I’d like to work in sports, maybe the Olympics.  Or take the GMAT and go to business school if the sports/Olympics thing didn’t work out.  So that was sort of a backup plan.

Over the next four years, I’d work on the broadcasts of two Olympics Games with two different networks.  I met amazing friends I still see regularly, now 20 years later. In between those two gigs was a short stint as a production assistant on a sports magazine show. But I quit that job to work that second Olympic Games.  That means just four years into my career I had already quit twice.  When the second Olympic assignment ended, that show hired me back, as a producer.  Still with me?

I didn’t feel like a loser.  Should I have?

Then, after four years producing for that highly regarded sports magazine show, I quit. (If you’re following, I’ve now quit the same show on the same network twice, which is kind of funny because that show is still on the air and the network still a great place to work).  I could no longer muster enthusiasm for the job and wasn’t sure where my future would go if I stayed.  I wanted to try something else, outside of sports.

Funny how that happens… that whole “change your mind” thing. Did you know you are allowed to do that?

I had no real plan.  I produced a documentary and did some freelance work on a variety of interesting projects with interesting people, one of whom went on to win an Oscar the following year.  She didn’t thank me, ’cause, you know, that whole loser thing.

Oh, I also had a baby.

Then, I spent four years producing for a national morning news show, the one just behind Today and Good Morning America in the ratings.  Despite working on the third-ranked of three morning shows, I loved the work and the people.  I also had a second baby during this time, which factors into the story.

When my beloved boss was fired and replaced with one who began assigning me at 4 pm projects for air the following morning on such pressing topics as “The Anniversary of the Bra” and “The Dangers of Chapstick Addiction” I began to hate my job and the late shoots and overnight edits that became completely unbearable for a mother of two young children.  I was dropping my kids at pre-school and daycare after an all-night edit and going back to work without any sleep.  Sometimes without a shower.

So I quit.

I had no plan.

I know, what a loser, right?  I’ll never win!

I thought I might like to take a break from TV to write a book.  I abandoned the book six weeks later – on chapter 13 – when a sports network called with an opportunity enticing enough for me to relocate my entire family.  I suppose that means I quit on the book too.


I recently quit that job after nine exhilarating years.  My reasons were numerous and somewhat painful, all signs suggesting it was time to move on and build something new, something I could own and run the way I wanted to run it.

I had no real plan. I had only an idea.

And I refuse to see myself as a loser.

In the past six months I’ve built a business and a brand.  I’ve created programming from scratch, written daily, developed a client list, coached individuals and presented to groups of 20 to 200. I’m doing this new dance they call a “pivot” as a “solopreneur” and learning something new every day.  I’ve met so many amazing people I never would have met had I stayed.

“Quitters never win and winners never quit,” they say.

How is that possible when I feel I gained so much each time I quit, in many ways adding by deleting?

Who knows what would have happened had I stayed in that very first job.  Maybe I’d be running that network by now.  But look at all the lost opportunity if I had done that.

I don’t recommend departing without a plan.  But sometimes the plan falls into place when you depart.   What have you got to lose by leaving?  What is there to win if you stay?

“Quitters never win and winners never quit.”

What loser said that?

Quitting doesn’t mean you’re not a winner. It means you are no longer stubbornly holding onto something you no longer want or that no longer serves you.

And quitting doesn’t mean giving up. It means giving of yourself elsewhere.  It means not settling for more of the same but setting a new course.

You know what you are losing when you walk away.

But you never know what you can gain until you do.

Valerie Gordon is a 10-time Emmy-award winning television producer and now the founder and owner of career and communications strategy firm, Commander-in-She.  She encourages quitters, hangers-on, winners and losers alike to craft their next chapters rather than re-reading the same one over and over again.  Check out what clients are saying.


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