Seth Godin wrote a wonderful little book called The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). The premise of this book is that on the way to being the best, there is an initial period of quick progress, learning, and excitement. This is followed by a dip that eliminates almost everyone from the race. The dip is a long slow slog through a difficult period that precedes the breakthrough to the top. The dip is hell and it creates scarcity because virtually everyone quits. The scarcity is what creates value for those who can get through it.
A second theme of the book is that winners quit a lot. They quit tactics that are Cul-de-Sacs (i.e dead-ends) and switch to a different tactic, possibly within the same strategy. Losers stay caught in the Cul-de-Sacs never knowing when it’s time to get out. So if your strategy is selling a product online you might go through many failed tactics (Cul-de-Sacs) before hitting on one that works. Eventually you find the one that works and and if you can push through the dip there is a huge payoff at the end.
The key to winning is to be able to identify when you are in a Cul-de-Sac and change tactics. Also, to identify when you are in a dip and have the perseverance to push through it to success. When you are are struggling in a dip:
“The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”
“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.” — Seth Godin
This might be an oversimplification but I basically buy into the general theme. If it was easy and there was no dip, there would be no scarcity and there would be no pay-off. If it was easy, none of us would have jobs and would be sipping drinks on a tropical beach with a hula girl.
Most people quit whatever it is they do when the going gets tough and stays tough for a long time. The big winners are the ones who have the awareness to figure out when to quit a Cul-de-Sac and the dogged persistence to hang on through a long drawn out dip.
Can you push through the dip?
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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