Winners never quit

I was in the marching band in high school. But then if you read this blog, you probably already knew that about me. Band geek tends to show through a lot.

My h.s. band director –George Gullett–was an intense guy who worked hard to bring out the best in us. He really did start with almost nothing and built us up into an excellent band in the four years I was there. You see, my high school was only a few years old when I started and the elementary and middle schools didn’t start a band program until I was in 8th grade, so there were few band musicians feeding into the high school. My freshman year we had 23 members, as I recall and about twenty of us didn’t know our left foot from our right. (Always step off on the left foot–no–the other left!)

One of the things that Mr. Gullett did was cover the walls of our band room with inspirational sayings–like:

“Winners never quit; quitters never win.”

“Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing!”

My favorite: “To be early is to be on time. To be on time is to be late. To be late is unthinkable.” (I still get nervous when I don’t arrive at least 10 minutes early for anything).

I recalled those lessons today as I thought about the Angels and the way they fought for their victory last night. Down 3 games to 1, it would have been easy to quit. They came out strong with a 4 run first inning and held the Yankees to zero runs through six innings. Then things started to fall apart and the Yankees scored 6 in the 7th inning. Down 6-4 it would have been easy for the Angels to give up, but they did not. Ultimately, they pulled out a 7-6 victory and they remain alive in the series.

Of course, the second the first Angel steps up to the plate on Saturday in the Bronx, they will have their backs to the wall again. They are behind 3-2 in the best of seven series, which means they must win games six and seven to get to the World Series. I know they will not quit until the final out of the final game. I hope it is game 7 and the Angels leave Yankee stadium victorious, but even if they lose in game six, it won’t be for lack of trying.

There’s a lesson here for all of us. The poster that said “Winning isn’t everything–it’s the only thing” is a lot of hooey (technical term). But there is truth in the idea that winners never quit. Whether you’re writing a novel, trying to raise a kid, bake a cake or master a Rubik’s cube you won’t get there by quitting.

If you set challenging goals, you may be tempted to quit. What do you do to keep going? Do you have posters on your wall? Secret pep talks in your head? A friend or two ready to kick your behind if you show some sign of giving up? What works for you?


  1. I have a feeling Mr. Gullet left an impression on a lot of us that will last a lifetime.

    I agree–we all know that succeeding isn’t possible 100% of the time. You can either go out knowing you’ve made every effort, or sit back and accept the failure.

    I confess that sometimes I set back when I know what I need to do is push harder. I feel much better about the outcome–even if it is a failure–when I know I’ve done everything I possibly could.

  2. Oh the memories of Mr. Gullett. I wonder if I got my disdain for being late from him. I feel that if I show up late for a meeting the message I am sending is “my time is more important than yours”. And I do not want to send that message whether I am meeting with a senior executive, or an administrative assistant.

    As far as continuing when the going gets tough, I offer this. I don’t like to fail, but it’s more acceptable when I know I have given it my all. So if it appears that failure is inevitable, I step it up so as to ensure I have given it my all, and sometimes I will turn it around and succeed.

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