Standard Press: Quitter


I live quite literally next to the library and qualify this with an entire bookshelf reserved for rented books. Currently looks over shoulder, it is pushing max capacity. I can pound back the written word faster than most people can drink, hence this new subcategory for industry appropriate reads and reviews. 

Quitter by Jon Acuff is a simultaneously hilarious and poignant read from cover to cover. It was brought innocently enough into the kitchen by my painter husband and read aloud as I rushed around baking, half listening. He read the quote below. I paused and put down my knife, tears streaming down my face.

We know how to talk ourselves out of or into things better than anyone on the planet. Think about a time when you made a horrible mistake and someone said, ‘What were you thinking?’

Usually you weren’t doing it because you thought it would be a horrible mistake. You thought it would be great. And you talked yourself into it. Because no one can convince us like we can convince us.

This man was speaking to me. Apparently I am not the only person that organizes their movies by color to avoid falling short with new projects. I thought only bad infomercials had that brand of stopping power (ie: never cry chopping onions again!); I was hooked. Acuff reminds us that jobs can append and enforce dreams, empower us to say 'no' to bad or misguided opportunities. The title is almost a misnomer. While the tantalizing possibility of quitting a nightmare (or landing a dream) scenario dangles before us, Acuff probes us for deeper answers: why we persist with jobs we hate, why we keep ourselves from success and whether we can continue responsibly into our career passions. His anecdotes are frank and refreshing in a world of glossy 'learned from my mistakes' books of the same nature.

He urges us to detour to the world of lost dreams, where he argues our true passions lie.  This struck me as particularly significant and begs a personal example: When I read this excerpt, I was dropped Ratatouille-style into my senior year of high school. I was coerced into co-concocting a concert type talent show and asked to make the posters, the highlight of which was my hand lettered title. It was clever and well executed (for 2004). I worked on it for days, copying and scanning at night and between classes. Insert some telling exclamation about Poster Edges Filter here. 2500000MB and three iMac crashes later, we had our trip heralded and funded, a several thousand dollar endeavor. My handwriting, meticulously crafted for years, is another example. For a designer my penmanship is gorgeous, said every coffee shop application recipient ever. Acuff insists our most down-played talents are keys to our heartstrings. Play them constantly.

Fear and lack of time are dashed upon the rocks of excuses, Dr. Who and Pokémon references abound. Fold in Bill Cosby with a rubber spatula and bake. Eventually Acuff, Sensei style, gives up the "so you really want to quit" not-so-super-secret and why you might not anyway. I won't ruin it for you here. Whether a freelancer or paper pusher, this book will inspire discovery and provide a push on the path to the pink slip.

I encourage anyone interested in viewing my queue to hop over to my Goodreads shelf and leave recommendations in the comments below. I'm looking for lettering, design, business, and creative leadership reads- anything would be deeply appreciated!