Why I have a bit of a problem with the slogan “Never Give Up!"

I was watching Louis Theroux interview adventurer Bear Grylls recently and during the programme they visited Bear’s private island off the coast of Wales. In Bear’s office was a sign saying “Never Give Up” and it was clear from what Bear was saying that thi was something of a mantra for him.

Bear Grylls inspires countless children to challenge themselves. He’s UK’s Scouting Chief Scout and recently launched a new badge with the “Never Give Up” slogan on it.

It’s a phrase many of us will be familiar with and a lot of time following it suits us well.

It might remind us not to give up when we are finding the going a bit challenging, or perhaps to try something we might be fearful of doing.

But is following this mantra, 100% of the time, without question always a good idea?

Is “Never Give Up!” always the right approach?

Like most things there’s 2 sides to every coin. Just as on many occasions it’s the right advice to keep going, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes  the right thing is to do the opposite. Give up, walk away.

Think of the employee who has secured their “dream job” and then finds themselves working in a toxic environment.  Despite their best efforts to make things right and to be a catalyst for change, nothing changes except the effects on their health and wellbeing which get steadily worse.

Or what about someone trying their best to succeed in something they’re really not cut out to do, just because society or family or friends think it’s important.

In these cases the right thing to do is to walk away, throw in the towel.

How about a slightly different slogan?

So I’d respectfully like to propose an amendment to the slogan, simply by adding two small words so it becomes “Never Give Up On Yourself”.

And sometimes, just sometimes that might mean giving up on others, where their values, behaviours and attitudes make the situation impossible. Then Giving Up allows you to walk away from that environment, look after yourself and find the next challenge worthy of your time and effort.