What Adam Grant Says About ‘Never Giving Up’

It’s the season for commencement addresses so it’s no surprise that this next post is inspired by Adam Grant’s speech. The line that I loved the most was, “‘Never give up’ is actually really bad advice. Sometimes quitting is a virtue. And if you want to cultivate the virtue of grit, that doesn’t mean keep doing the thing that’s failing over and over again. It means defining your dreams broadly enough that you can find new ways to pursue them when your first and second plans fail.”

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Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.


If you think about it as an engineer, your efforts are part of a control loop. Your goal is the setpoint and what you’re trying to do is close the gap between your goal and your current reality (the process variable). The difference between the two (the error) is sent through the controller, which drives a change that alters your current reality. This results in the difference between your setpoint and your process variable to be measured for the process to start all over again.

So the advice these two quotes are saying is actually, close the feedback loop. Don’t just get stuck in the controller phase where you make changes to alter your reality without actually studying the changed reality.

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