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Back in early April as the grip of COVID-19 tightened around the UK, the BBC presented a message of hope – Idris Elba read the poem Don’t Quit.

It took me back to my childhood as that is when I “discovered” the poem.  The BBC cited the author as John Greenleaf Whittier but the printed version I have kept for over 40 years simply states “Anonymous”.  There has been a dispute that it was actually written by Edgar A. Guest and originally called “Keep Going” but even if the author is in doubt, the strength of its message during the pandemic, to me, is unquestionable.

On Day 58 of our lockdown I find “Don’t Quit” even more relevant.  A very much needed positive mindset boost.  “The silver tint of the clouds of doubt” is maybe my pandemic “silver lining”. It is that glimpse of hope when everything seems hopeless.

My business, like millions of others, is unrecognisable from late February – how quickly life has changed, and priorities altered.   Do you furlough yourself and “rest if you must” or as a company Director, continue at a financial loss to market your business as “you may succeed with another blow”? 

Each of us will faces different challenges around the work that we do – this poem may help you if “the road your trudging seems all uphill”.  You may find other inspiration within its verse.

For me, the “twists and turns” are all the shocking new statistics we hear on a daily basis, the global events, stories, surprises, limitations, successes, and failures that we are all undeniably witnessing.

But do we stop and give up?  Do we stop dreaming, hoping, searching, or trying to make the best out of each locked down day? John Greenleaf Whittier suggests we do not. We simply do not quit.

The science around COVID-19 is currently neither exact nor conclusive. No country is yet 100% in control of the pandemic or its impact on the lives of its citizens. So, for the vast majority the surrounding circumstances will be the most challenging they have every faced.

When you are out of control, when you cannot fix things, when your helplessness starts to overwhelm, then all we as individuals can do is to take back control.  We cannot control the circumstance around us, but we must be brave enough to take control of how we respond to them.   We cannot and will not quit.  That is going to be a whole lot easier if we do it together.

So, in Mental Health Awareness week, seek out those that you have not heard from recently, send texts or emails to friends or relatives that you may have lost touch with.  Phone people or even write a letter or post a card!  Set up virtual meetings even if the person has never done it before.  Even if you are in isolation and continue to social distance it does not mean you should leave others alone.  Even if you do not believe you have the energy or desire to do it – try – stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit.  It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit



When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow—
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out—
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit—
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit


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