"Quit" by Annie Duke

Review by Borodutch

"Winners never quit, and quitters never win" is such a staple in the media that we assume it's true. However, it is not as evident in many instances when people had to fail and quit repeatedly before achieving success. In the third book I've read by the author, she explores why people need to learn how and when to stop — to succeed more frequently.

Whenever you choose to do something, you make an active choice not to do everything else — this is the definition of opportunity cost. When you spend your time (the only limited resource) on a failing venture, you decide not to persuade other ideas or approaches. Unfortunately, the human brain is built in a way that makes it difficult not to fall prey to many cognitive biases preventing us from quitting.

Annie masterfully points out a series of cognitive biases that worsen our decision-making. She mentions that:

  1. "Winners" are always celebrated, but "quitters" must be praised as well — after all, quitting close to a mountain summit due to the danger of imminent death is bright, and we should tip our hats to the brave quitters.
  2. Whenever people judge a quitting decision, they either think that someone quoted too soon or not soon enough (depending on the outcome), so there is no need to be ashamed of quitting; people will criticize you anyway.
  3. Quitting should be done for sure when you are in losses — however, the human brain makes it highly challenging to leave in such a scenario, instead encouraging escalation of commitment.
  4. Oh, the "sunk cost fallacy" you all heard about; I won't go into the details.
  5. We value things we have more than the same things if we don't own them. Also, we prefer to stick to the status quo, affecting our decision to quit.
  6. The most painful thing about quitting is identity dissonance. If you're a "runner," leaving means relinquishing part of your identity, which hurts. So don't let your ego prevent you from quitting!
  7. The best way to check if you need to quit is to find someone who loves you but isn't afraid to hurt your feelings. They can advise you on a better course of action.
  8. It would be best if you didn't approach goals as binary. If you quit on 10k in the marathon, you did not fail the marathon — you ran freaking 10k! Goals are a spectrum.

Overall, as usual, a brilliant book by the author. I loved every single page of it. I will follow the author and anxiously await her subsequent written work!