I’ve always thought I wasn’t a quitter till I read The Dip. Seth Godin considers winners those who quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt. Winners, he says, seek The Dip. On the contrary, losers either fail to stick out The Dip or they never even find the rigth dip to conquer.
Quit the wrong stuff
Stick with the right stuff
Have the guts to do one or the other.
The author of The Dip begins this priceless little book by saying that being the best in the world really matters, aside from the theory of The Long Tail. Sure enough, our culture and economy are increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail.
You are not the only person who looks for the best choice. Everyone does. As a result, the rewards for being first are enormous. It’s not a linear scale. It’s not a matter of getting a little more after giving a little more. It’s a curve, and a steep one.
So when to quit?
Curve 1: The Dip. At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. And then the Dip happens.
The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.
Curve 2: The Cul-de-Sac. It’s a situation where you work and you work and you work and nothing much changes. When you find one, you need to get off it, fast.
Curve 3: The Cliff. It’s a situation where you can’t quit until you fall off, and the whole thing falls apart.
While the Cul-de-Sac and the Cliff are curves that lead to failure–so you need to quit; do you have the guts?–, The Dip leads to success–so you need to persevere. Quitting, says Seth Godin, when you hit The Dip is a bad idea.
If it doesn’t cost you your life, it isn’t a quest. The Dip is the reason you’re here.
Seth Godin adds that if you can get through The Dip, if you can keep going when the system is expecting you to stop, you will achieve extraordinary results.
When the pain gets so bad that you’re ready to quit, you’ve set yourself up as someone with nothing to lose. And someone with nothing to lose has quite a bit of power. You can go for broke. Challenge authority. Attempt unattempted alternatives. Lean into a problem; lean so far that you might just lean right through it.
Is the pain of THE DIP worth the benefit of the light at the end of the tunnel?
Quitting is not the same as failing, and coping is a lousy alternative to quitting.
Strategic quitting is a concious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. If you realize you’re at a dead end compared with what you could be investing in, quitting is not only a reasonable choice, it’s a smart one.
Failing, on the other hand, means that your dream is over. Failing happens when you give up, when there are no other options.
Coping is what people do when they try to muddle through. They cope with a bad job or a difficult task. The problem with coping is that it never leads to exceptional performance.
But before quitting, the author of The Dip says that we should ask three questions:
- Am I panicking?
- Who am I trying to influence?
- What sort of measurable progress am I making?
Ultimately, Seth Godin gives a priceless advice.
If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.