In 2015, Shia LaBeouf broke the internet. Green screen clips of him giving an exaggerated, Nike-style motivational speech, originally recorded for a London art school’s student projects, were just too good fodder to pass up. Within days, Shia was everywhere — and every-how.
There was auto-tune Shia with explosions, Shia multiplying every three seconds, Shia motivating Batman, and, you guessed it, more auto-tune Shia. But the best jokes are usually the best because, somewhere inside, there is a truth we can’t deny.
Eight years later, people still regularly leave comments under the original video — only a fraction seems to be there just for the laughs. The line that gets them? The very last one: “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”
When we’re at a true dead end, giving up can be an act of kindness. But life is not a neighborhood full of cul-de-sacs. There’s almost always a way to go on, and even if we proclaim otherwise, deep down, we know we’re just bolting.
It’s easy enough to forget in the moment. We’re not quitting! We’re starting! This new job, new platform, new partner is sure to be everything we’ve ever wanted — until we realize nothing on this earth can fill a void we ourselves created, and the cycle repeats.
In the beginning, all new ventures are fun. But the quick learning and novelty never last. Such are the rules of “the Dip.” The slog is where the wheat separates from the chaff, and even if we only feel chafed after many rounds of dipping and running, the realization will stay the same: We took a long time to tire because starting over is thrilling where persisting is not, but in the end, we still gave up.
We return to Shia because, in his literally evergreen one-minute speech, he reminds us: On a long enough timeline, flitting around and staying in place are equally hard — but only one allows you to water your plants and still be there when you can harvest their fruits.
Compound interest works almost anywhere, but it only works if you stay put. It’s okay to burn out, to need rest, to stop posting videos for a month and then return. But return to the same channel, the same team, the same partner you must, because where perseverance might one day lead to a dead-end, jumping ship is failure admitted before it has happened.
Shia LaBeouf has had a rough couple of years. He, too, gave up some of the right things too early, too often. Almost exactly seven years after his meme moment, he resurfaced in a two-hour interview, seemingly a reformed man on the right track. Time will tell if he can “just do it.” In the meantime, perhaps even for him, his words will stay worth revisiting: “If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.”