Living Each Day With a Never-Quit Mindset


If you’re a frequent reader of Ms. Career Girl articles, you’re the kind of woman who is committed to success and learning all there is to know to get ahead. I commend you for that. The world needs more women who are in fierce pursuit of the life they were created for.

I hope you have a crystal-clear vision of what you want that life to look like, and I hope you’re going after it as ferociously as you know how.

But I’m writing to remind you of something you should never forget in the pursuit of your dreams.

It’s something that’s been reinforced as a harsh reality in my years as a CEO, but I learned it for the first time as a helpless young child, watching the struggle of my widowed, uneducated, unemployed mother who eventually cratered under the weight of world: 

Life is uncertain, unfair, and often unpleasant.

You come here to read career advice. Here’s some you may not have heard in a while:

It isn’t your accolades and accomplishments that will propel you to success. It isn’t the recommendation letters you collect in your padfolio, it isn’t your winning smile and poise, it isn’t your desire to climb the ladder that will get you where you need to go in life.

If you truly want to achieve greatness, you cannot ignore the indispensable importance of developing Gameness, the never-quit mindset that carries you through the tough moments in life. With this fighting spirit, you can close the distance between who you are and who you want to be.

Tough moments, by the way, will never stop smacking you in the face. They’ll catch you off guard, they’ll kick you when you’re down, they’ll stomp on your plans. 

how to respond to failure

You know what else will never stop coming, though? Opportunities.

There is no shortage of self-improvement resources on the market, ladies. I’m sure you’ve worked through more than one (as have I) in the pursuit of becoming all that you can be. The acquisition of skills and LinkedIn endorsements will amount to nothing, though, if we come right up to the Door of Opportunity and then back down. You might do that because:

  • it’s not perfectly aligned with what you were expecting.
  • you feel underqualified to step into what you’re being called to.
  • you’re silently holding out for something that will bring you ‘peace.’
  • you think the opportunity just requires too much from you.

I can’t emphasize this next point clearly enough. Regardless of what we fight to change about ourselves, there’s one thing about life that will never change: We will live each day in the face of adversity that demands something from us.

I know you want to advance in your career, and I think that’s terrific. I’m asking you to broaden your vision and answer a bigger question: Are you willing to get in the ring, fight a worthy opponent, and fail in the pursuit of your dreams? Are you willing to get back up afterwards and face failure again?

That’s how we reach our true potential: we never quit in the pursuit of it.

In our comfortable and privileged lives, we’ve gotten a little too accustomed to walking the paved roads that make us feel like we’re following some semblance of a plan. We don’t stop too often to interrogate if the pot at the end of the rainbow is the treasure we were seeking.

Taking on the challenges of life with a never-quit mindset will cost you. It will cost you comfort, temporary pleasures, and the ease of taking the path of least resistance.

It will also pay off in ways that are currently unfathomable to you.

In the pursuit of your potential, maybe it’s worth pushing the limits you perceive. You may surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. That is why Gameness is life’s most important attribute. 

Here’s a framework to get you started:

Manage Your Perspective.

Our understanding of ourselves, our relationships, and the world in general begins here. We can commit to intentionally improving our perspective as we grow and undergo new experiences that teach us the valuable lessons we need to succeed. Life has a way of doing that if you’re paying attention.

Manage Your Potential.

How come we stopped looking to the future with the belief that we can be anything we want to be, or do anything we want to do? Just because we’re grown-ups now doesn’t mean we’re fully ‘grown up’ into who we will ultimately be. Don’t put a cap on your potential – pursue it doggedly. 

Manage Your Problems.

We often choose to live our life with problems that could (and should) be resolved. For those that can’t be, we’ll learn what we’re meant to learn if we navigate them with introspection and use them to our advantage.

Manage Your Performance.

Have you taken the time to evaluate the progress you’ve made toward fulfilling your purpose and achieving your dreams? I would argue there’s nothing more important if we’re truly committed to leading a productive and satisfying life.

This framework presents the structure for my new book, Gameness: Land On Your Feet, Not On Your Feelings. I hope you’ll take the time to dive deeper and lean into what life has to teach you.

I’ll leave you with this reminder: Every day, you get to decide if you will withdraw, retreat, and dodge the difficulties of life, or if you will confront each obstacle and allow this short time on earth to be as fulfilling as it was created to be.

I think you were built to choose the latter.

This guest post was authored by David Dennis

David Dennis is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Eckerd Connects, one of the nation’s largest nonprofits providing workforce development, Job Corps, juvenile justice, and child welfare services across the country. Read his story and the book that inspired this article by clicking here.


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Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.