Working Wounded Blog: Quitters Who Win

"They deserve better. They are good people. There is a good thing going on here. And it's time for me to leave."

And with that statement, the 16-year career of Seattle Mariner's manager Mike Hargrove came to an abrupt end Sunday. He talked about the fact that he was no longer able to give the 100 percent effort he was asking of his players and so it was time for him to leave.

Hargrove is just one example of an individual who decided to leave his job not because he had to, but because the fire inside him didn't burn as brightly as it once did. This week we'll look at other high-visibility quitters and share the results of a very surprising poll that could change the way that you view quitting from now on.

But first, take Tiki Barber. When he retired from the New York Giants football team, he had just completed his fifth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season and was a Pro Bowl selection. But rather than add to his legacy — and yards — as the 17th best rusher in the history of the NFL, he decided to hang up his cleats while still on top of his game at only 31 years old.

Not since Jim Brown's retirement from pro football in 1965, after only nine years, has there been so much conversation about people at the top of their profession who voluntarily chose to leave the game.

There are many reasons why such people walk. High-salaried athletes can walk away and not have to worry about money. Media opportunities, like Barber's new job as a TV commentator, can provide visibility, income and satisfaction, all without blindside hits from 300-pound behemoths.

But don't get me started on the whole "I wanted to spend more time with my family" malarkey. That is a rap that is almost exclusively used by people who are either past their sell date or who never had game in the first place. Think I'm being too harsh? Then next time you hear someone at a news conference play the "family card" look at the deer-in-the-headlights eyes of the family members standing nearby who stand to "gain" from all this extra attention. Case closed.

But there is another reason for moving on that seldom gets the attention it deserves. Tiki, Mike and Jim are three examples of people who no longer need to be defined by their jobs, even as many others lust for the opportunity that they voluntarily left behind.

Which leads to a fascinating study by Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital. Researchers set out to explore the heart attack risk of a variety of different job-related pressures. They selected meeting a high-pressure deadline, laying someone off, getting a promotion and quitting as possible scenarios. Which do you think increased the risk of heart attack the most?

Actually I gave them to you in the correct order. Meeting a high-pressure deadline had the largest impact on heart attack risk: It increased it 2.3 times. Laying someone off increased heart attack risk 2.2 times. Getting a promotion increased risk 1.6 times. And quitting did not increase your risk for heart attack.

Anyone who has ever suited up in a Little League game has heard the cliche "winners never quit and quitters never win." Suddenly Mike, Tiki and Jim look less like losers and more like winners who listened to their hearts, in more ways than one.

Quote of the Week

"Work is the basis of living. I'll never retire. A man'll rust out quicker than he'll wear out." -- Colonel Harland Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken

Book Excerpt of the Week

"What Should I Do With My Life" by Po Bronson (Random House, 2002)

"I used to think certain jobs were 'cool,' and more likely to inspire passion. Now I know passion is rooted in deeply felt experiences, which can happen anywhere. I used to think life presented a five-page menu of choices. Now I think the choice is in whether to be honest, to ourselves and others, and the rest is more of an uncovering, a peeling away of layers, discovering talents we assumed we didn't have. I used to treasure the innocence of first love. Now I treasure the hard-fought. I used to want to change the world. Now I'm open to letting it change me."

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, an internationally syndicated columnist, popular speaker and a recent addition to the community of bloggers. He welcomes your comments at bob@workingwounded.com.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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