Jesse Jackson, the sometimes preacher and sometimes U.S. presidential contender, said at an Atlanta convention in 1988, "It ain't over till it's over. Even then, it ain't over." I really like how that sounds.
In fact, it sounds so good that I have decided to make it one of my life mottos, that is to say never give up because there is always hope, a silver lining at the end of the rainbow.
That is a funny thing because I constantly tell people, staff and family, we must learn to give up when it becomes necessary, especially if it gets in the way of other aspects of work and life.
I will give you an example. Many people I know have a tendency to believe that I am an expert in English, which I am not, and ask me for advice on how they can improve language test scores, maybe because I achieved a perfect score in the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) a long time ago.
What I tell them is quite simple: learn to give up. Do not get stuck on certain questions that they are lost on. They need to mark the question, forget about it and move on. If there is time, they can go back and make a good guess. It is like a roll of the dice or it may just come back.
This, of course, is easier said than done. The fact that you missed those questions continues to haunt you and you are unable to concentrate on the rest of the test. This is what you must overcome.
Obviously this is a different sort of giving up and thinking everything is over. For Jesse Jackson, it concerned the U.S. presidential election and so there was a little more at stake than sitting the TOEIC test.
And there are certainly times when you cannot, must not, give up ― for instance when it concerns health. This is one area in which it ain't over until it is over. Even then it ain't over."
There is another tricky aspect of giving up: it does not always have to be do or die. This actually happens more often than most people think.
To give you another example, my company is currently updating its website and I discovered that this requires more patience than one would imagine (I wanted to say fathom but I managed to stop myself).
In addition to introducing a new design, there are scores of debugging (a process by which software glitches are identified and resolved) chores to be done, thus delaying the re-launch. After all, we do not want site visitors to get frustrated and decide never to come back.
What I told my staff and the website company we are working with is that there is little perfection in life, especially at work, and this must not get in the way of our determination to reach the next level.
I emphasized that we must let go what is less important and move on to the third and fourth gear without dwelling on the first and second while hoping that a miracle will happen. It usually never does.
If I were to say that I do not want perfection, it would be a lie. In m own judgment, I try to get as near as possible, as close to what is realistically possible, and try to move on.
It is like my children. My two daughters are the most precious things in the world and I want the best of everything for them. Often, what I think is best for them is not the same as they think.
But this is no reason to give up. Where my family is concerned, there is truly no giving up. We get into small confrontations about the smallest of things. They fuss and I fuss. In the end, I always lose.
But, it ain't over until it's over and even then it ain't over.
Jake Nho heads online operations at The Korea Times where he has been since 1985. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.