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Persevere. Keep moving forward.

Looking back on it, it seems like a bad dream. I was on my bike, climbing more than 6,000 feet to the 10,800-foot summit of Colorado’s Grand Mesa. I was in really lousy shape at the time – and it was the first day of my annual cycling vacation, The Grand Mesa was the most brutal mountain climb I’d ever experienced, and it was beating me up.

My gang had a saying, “Death before sag.” The “sag” was the vehicle that would pick up the riders who just weren’t up to the challenge. I’d never sagged in my life, but I felt like the time had come. I felt terrible. I hated that ride, I hated those mountains. It did not feel like a vacation, not at all. ohlsson clas

I knew I had to quit.

But, before I did, I came up with a quitting strategy, and it went like this: I had permission to quit, but I wouldn’t until I had depleted every bit of energy I had. I would stop at the next rest stop, and take a very long break. It wound up stretching to an hour and a half – more than I’d ever stopped on a day trip. My plan was to wait it out, then get in the sag car.

After the time passed, I felt like I could go a few more miles. I decided to just keep moving until I could not move anymore. I told myself, “This is not a race. I have all day. I have eight hours until the sun goes down.” I rode four miles, then stopped for awhile. And then, I made up my mind that I would do it one mile at a time. Ride a mile, stop for a few minutes. Ride another mile, then stop for a few more minutes. As I did this, one sag vehicle after another passed me, filled with cyclists who had given up.

One mile at a time, I moved toward the summit. It was not fun, I did not take in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery, I did not enjoy any of that experience, and I am not going to pretend that the life-changing lesson left me with feel-good memories all these years later. I still look back on that day and grimace, and I never went back to ride that route again. But, the moment came when I looked down at my bike computer and saw that I was within two miles of the top, Two miles, and the I knew I’d licked the mountain.

I remember summiting the Grand Mesa in the early afternoon, getting off my bike, pouring an entire bottle of water over my head, then stretching out, flat on my back on the ground.

When I think back to that day of cycling, I am still not sure who was smarter: those who quit or those of us who kept fighting the mountain, despite our misery. I mean, who is smarter? The cyclist who said, “This is my vacation, this ride sucks, I am going to quit riding so my vacation doesn’t suck,” or someone like me who said, “This is my vacation, this ride sucks, but I am too stubborn to stop and so – even if I don’t enjoy one minute of it – I am not quitting.”

The point here is that quitting is sometimes the right decision for the right person in the right time. Timing counts.

Keep moving until it is time to stop. If you quit something when you’ve done all you can, then you really can’t feel like you have failed yourself – only that some of your efforts may have failed.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books and speaks to corporations and organizations about courages and creative leadership strategies.

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