The UX of Giving Up

Published 3 Comments on The UX of Giving Up

When do you give up?

Let’s put that another way, When do you realize you made a mistake and try something different? ¬†Yes, that sounds much better. ¬†Yet, it’s the same thing. ¬†I have seen so many companies refuse to acknowledge the truth of a bad situation and stop the madness.

When something is going horribly wrong, you need to be able to be objective and look at it without emotion. You don’t want to change direction every single time something takes a temporary downturn. ¬†You don’t want to give up when you are moving through the dip to a much better place. ¬†You don’t want to give up before an idea has had the time to mature.

The time to give up is when an idea is legitimately screwed.  Usually, there are a few people who hang on to the old idea and refuse to acknowledge reality.  They are living in denial and delusion.  Some  people just will not see reality.

On the flip side, sometimes these are exactly the people who have a vision of a better world.  The key is to look at the idea.  Is is the old established obvious way?  or is it a new different unproven way?  I would be much more tempted to stick with the latter.

Proven methods are rarely proven to make phenomenal products. ¬†They usually are proven to make¬†mediocre¬†crap. ¬†I know this because I look around me and wish that people had given up before giving me something lame. ¬†Or I thank God that people didn’t give up before they finished on one of the few things I love.

Hmm, I think this didn’t help you decide when to give up or not. ¬†Hopefully, it is food for thought.



  1. The saddest “giving up” problem that I have ever seen was watching the show “American Inventor”. Not sure if the show is on any more – I only watched the first season. On it, they had people how put decades and their life savings into their inventions. And, no matter how little traction their ideas get, they never give up on their idea.

    A lot of these people lose their houses, their families, their friends. It like the idea of their invention is the only thing they care to hold on to.

    It was actually a really heartbreaking show. I felt really bad for these people.

  2. Exactly. Some of them should have given up. However, it’s hard to know if you are onto something extraordinary or just down a rathole.

  3. @Glen,

    Good point. Last night, I just finished the book, The Drunkards Walk. In the final chapter, he was talking about how much randomness plays into success. He brought up, as an example, some guy who had a theory about String theory. A lot of people laughed at him, but he never gave up. And then years later, he had a huge mathematical breakthrough (or something), and suddenly, it seemed a whole lot more feasible.

    The author questioned – what if he had given up one day before? And, how many people *have* given up one day/week/month/year before that break through?

    He ended with a nice quote: If you want to succeed, double your failure rate. Meaning, since randomness has such a large affect on success, we should leverage the one thing we DO have control over: how many times we are at bat. Fail enough times, and you’re bound to succeed, by chance.

    Ok, that went way off topic ūüôā

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