The Dip – When to Quit and When to Stick
I was reading Tynan’s blog and his recent post about Seth Godin’s book, “The Dip.” I just finished reading Seth’s most recent book “Tribes” <very short and very good> so this caught my eye. So much so, that I just headed over to the library to check it out.
Now, less than am hour after reading Tynan’s post, I have finished reading “The Dip”! Yes, it’s a short one.
The book is about being the best in the world at something, and the effort that goes into that pursuit. Being best in the world is itself subjective. It could be best in your town or whatever micro-market niche you are in. Regardless, being the best at something always involves some amount of effort and toil <the dip> before coming out the other side and seeing the benefits.
Most people quit in the dip.
The trick is to know when to push through the dip and when to quit. Lifting weights is a great example. It is the last few reps that produce all the gains. Most people quite before they break a sweat. Those last few reps are painful.
On the flip-side, quitting is also important since languishing in mediocrity is a sure-fire way to waste a lot of resources (time, money, opportunity cost of doing something great).
So in the end…we all need to decide what to stick with AND what to quit. The book is a great and very short. I highly recommend reading it a few times (I plowed through it in less than an hour).
Below are some random notes I took while reading.
- Being the best in the world is important. The best get out-sized rewards.
- Everyone wants the best, nobody wants the second best.
- Being the best in the world means quitting lots of things where it is clear that you won’t be best in the world….and sticking with things that do have promise, even when the going gets tough.
- Best in the world is subjective. It is the best in terms of the range of your customer. Best in the world might really be the best in your town in the price range that your customer can afford. It’s about being the best in your niche.
- The customer determines what the “best” is…not you. And their definitions may change.
- People who are the best in the world get really good at answering the questions that are hard, the things that they don’t know. That’s what they specialize in. If they skipped the hard stuff, their skills would not be valuable.
- Be exceptional in the areas that matter.
- Dips don’t last as long when you whittle at them. Successful people don’t just survive the dip, they lean into them.
- Jack Welch made the decision for GE to only stay in businesses where it was #1 or #2 in its industry. He was a great “quitter.”
- Quitting when you hit the dip is a bad idea.
- Quitting means deciding ahead of time that you are done.
- Write down under what circumstances you are going to quit! Don’t quit in the moment.
- Questions to ask before quitting:
1. Am I panicking?
2. Who <or what> and I trying to influence?
3. What measurable success and progress is being made?
If you are making a decision about when to quit in the moment, you are probably making the wrong decision. – Ultramarathoner Dick Collins as quoted in Seth Godin’s book “The Dip.”