When I lived in Leeds, back in my student days, some work colleagues from my part-time job at a bookies, and I used to regularly go to this karaoke night at a pub called The Ship, which was hidden down one of the many small arcades which Leeds city centre has. I don’t really remember that any of us ever actually sang, maybe one lady called Julie who drank the weakest tea I’ve ever seen (funny the details you remember).
But we always had such a fun night there, watching the regulars and singing along. As a bonus, it also introduced me to a bunch of songs I’d never heard before.
The one I remember most, and the reason I started this trip down memory lane, was the Gambler by Kenny Rogers. The lyrics of country music songs are, for me at least, impossible not to be drawn into, and the advice from the Gambler is as sage as any philosopher. The words have stuck with me ever since (I’m not sure if this had anything to do with working for the bookies now I think about it!)
I often think about these lyrics, especially last week when I came down with a bug.
I’m not one to get ill and normally try to ignore it and carry on regardless, stubbornly believing “I don’t get sick”.
Well I am human and in the end last week I had to concede defeat. This act of ‘folding’ and just taking it easy for a couple of days was really hard for me (I am the worst patient), but I realised that recognising that this was the best course of action was actually what Kenny was talking about. A positive choice rather than a loss… a strategic surrender to allow me to keep fighting the war (am I mixing my metaphors too much??)
This song is all about picking your battles and so much of life is the same.
I’ve been thinking about how you know when it’s the right time to give something up versus pushing thtrough, it might be a job, a relationship, a work project, smoking, booze, a hobby, a diet, the gym…there’s always something we want to quit.
I don’t really have any easy answers but my dad always used to remind me of a quote he overheard at a train station which gave him the final push he needed to change his job;
“When the shit to reward curve turns agains you, it’s time to move on”
He was a science boy – there had to be graphs involved!
I love the simplicity of this expression because it also recognises that there is a balance to be struck, with all sorts of variables which need considering. But ultimately, if you’re not getting what you need then it’s time to change your approach, whether that’s putting more in, doing something differently or walking away is a choice only you can make.
I find it as good a rule as any to live by!
The important thing is to own your decision. I’ve talked about decision making before so I won’t repeat myself, other than to say don’t decide to walk away in haste or when you’re stressed or anxious. Get it clear in your head why you’re doing what you’re doing. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a rational reason based on lists of pros and cons. Humans are mostly irrational, despite what we would like to think. It’s got to be a gut choice that you can live with, because ultimately there is no right or wrong.
As Kenny says…
“Cause every hand’s a winner, And every hand’s a loser
And the best that you can hope for is to die in your sleep”
Preach Kenny, Preach!!