Worse than giving up…

Daily, I see “don’t give up!” Of course, this is good cheerleading. I recently watched Shia LaBeouf in the scariest (and funniest) motivational speech ever made, numerous times. I think he used every motivational cliche ever spoken. It’s good to laugh at ourselves a bit. The last thing he says is, “If you’re tired of starting over, don’t give up.”

He’s right, of course. 

But here’s something I don’t hear much about: that space between working like a fiend and just prior to the acknowledged moment of defeat. That space.

In the book, Switch: How to Change When Change is Hard, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, they talk about the “U”. When we have a goal we naively think, I am here. I am going to go there. And that the line between these two are straight. Linear. Nope. According to Chip and Dan success is shaped like a U. When I first read this, I was so happy for the clarification. When I’m in the middle of a painting there is a point with which, I want to take the painting and hurl it like a Frisbee across the room. I hate it, I hate me, I hate the world, I suck, I’m  worthless as an artist. I’m at the bottom of the “U”. Shia would tell me not to give up. But sometimes the best thing you can do it step away for a time. Mostly I plow through, but there are times, especially with portraits, where I have to step away. It’s been true for most of my really large projects, too. It’s safe to say, when I do, it’s easy to lose momentum. 

So, what about those times when you find that you’ve set the project down with every intention of picking it back up, but life gets in the way? You don’t know why but you’re not doing the work. When asked, you say, “Oh, I’m getting back to it soon,” but it just doesn’t happen. 

This space is far more dangerous than the words, “I give up.” This space has a way of growing. The bigger it grows, the harder it is to get momentum back. 

This is important: this space has a meaning. 

It’s important you address it. Is it fear? A lack of resources? Is it a lack of support? Is it a lack of direction? Exhaustion? Because by not addressing the space in between, you may lead yourself right up to the, “I give up.”

If you can identify the reason for the space, you can better make a game plan for it as an obstacle. 

The space can be an obstacle. 

Namaste, my friends. 



Here’s Shia’s video: Shia’s inspiration


About PamelaDevine

Pamela Devine is a singer songwriter, fine artist, and filmmaker. View all posts by PamelaDevine

4 responses to “Worse than giving up…

  • irrationalliving

    This is a wonderful post. I love it. I absolutely have to read that book now! I definitely agree that stepping back can be helpful, but for some it can be crippling. Personally, I always charge forward and suffer through the bottom of that U because I know if I stop and step back, the step forward again will be much harder for me.

    • PamelaDevine

      I highly recommend that book! I most always agree with the “plow through” philosophy as well. The exception might be if you’re crippling yourself or others, or if you don’t know what you want. I always tell people their number one priority is to be defined about what they want. If they aren’t, that’s were their time, effort, and work needs to be.

      Thanks for commenting. If you haven’t yet, follow this blog. Let’s go on this journey together. 🙂

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