By Teri Sporer | Chief operating officer/shareholder, Holmes Murphy

In a year filled with people who just want 2020 to be over, I have reflected on many things.

When times are great, you never have the same sentiments as when challenges come your way. Challenges are the fiber of being that make us strive to work harder, learn more and tackle the stuff that previously seemed insurmountable.


Sometimes the deck is stacked in your favor. Sometimes it's not. And at certain points along the path of life, it is OK to simply say, "I quit" and walk away.

We all learn differently, I suppose. But, looking back, there are times I wished I had the courage to walk away. In my sales career, the promise of a big fat commission check at the end of every job kept me plugging away. While business owners always seemed committed, the prospects weren't always there like you hoped. And it was humbling how, in the end, I had to tell my family it was "ramen noodle time" when I didn't win that big prize.

To me, walking away always felt like quitting, and I was raised not to be a quitter.

In high school, I wanted to quit playing the tenor sax after I found out I had to carry that thing in marching band. Worse yet, I had to sit with the band at football games instead of running wild in the stadium with all my friends.


It was junior year when I finally convinced my mom and dad to let me quit, but I had to talk to our band director personally and explain why. After stewing about it, I got up the courage to meet with Mr. Cornelius, and he said those dreadful words: "I am very disappointed in you, Teri."

His response, and many other things throughout my life, set a tone for me that would cause me to fight fiercely not to quit.

These are two scenarios from two different life experiences. So what’s the difference?

I recently had the chance to pick up my old sax from my mom’s house. I still had it, and I could still play a tune!

That feeling of disappointment from Mr. Cornelius and where it came from suddenly became clear to me. He wasn’t disappointed for the band or for investing the time to make me better — he was disappointed because he knew I would miss the joy of playing these tunes later in life.


Some of those sales were never going to be my biggest or best, so why did I hang on so tightly even though I knew I should quit? Because I’m not a quitter. But I should’ve walked away after about six months. It would have been fine and acceptable within my company to do so, and that one is a regret for me.

So here’s my advice: Look for the things in life that surround you when you are courageous enough to walk away. Replace the energy you spend on things that really don’t matter with the things and people you love. Take an energy inventory of each and every aspect of the way you spend your time and evaluate whether you want to pick up that sax again someday or eat ramen noodles for dinner. There is a major difference between the two choices.

As you navigate all of the pieces of your life in 2020 — all the political, COVID-related, market-related, weather-related, and health-related items we have all faced — it's OK to say, "I QUIT. Bring on 2021!" Use all of your influences toward the good things to come, and plan 2021 right now. Treat it like it will be your best year yet.

Teri Sporer is the chief operating officer for the Holmes Murphy enterprise-wide property casualty division. In this position, Sporer is responsible for setting the strategic direction for the property casualty service team to ensure Holmes Murphy meets customer needs and sales commitments. Connect with Teri on LinkedIn.