The case for quitting – knowing when it’s time to fold

It turns out that if things aren’t going your way at work, it’s okay to quit. Long gone are the days of having to grin and bear it. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, there’s a strong business case for quitting at the right time. And not looking back…


Consider Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of a growing video game start-up with a loyal customer base, a popular product and plenty of money in the bank in 2012. One sleepless night, Butterfield calculated that his company’s chances of financial success were very slim and the following day he quit. His search for the next big thing led him promptly back to the software his company had developed for its own internal communication. Two days later and Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge – AKA Slack – was born. Salesforce bought Slack at the height of the pandemic for $27.7 billion.


Poker also has valuable lessons to teach us about knowing when to fold. One of the biggest differences between amateur and professional players is how often they quit. After they see their starting cards, the pros play less than 25% of their hands while the amateurs play more than 50%.


These two examples show us that quitting is not the same as failing. Indeed, it’s a prerequisite for success. Annie Duke, author of Quit, which makes the business case for quitting, says, “Success does not lie in sticking to things… It lies in picking the right thing to stick to and quitting the rest.”


– So why are we so averse to quitting? Apparently, our brains are hardwired to stick things out to the bitter end. Escalation commitment, desire for certainty and the status quo bias act as obstacles. Duke argues that sometimes we need to take stock of our current situation and calculate whether the expected value of quitting is higher than sticking with it.


If you decide that quitting is the right option for you, please get in touch for expert help planning your next move. With over three decades of experience in recruitment and longstanding relationships with 400+ leading businesses worldwide, we will find great matches for your experience, skills, values and career aspirations. Please email us at or call us on 020 7092 3939 to brainstorm the options.