Book Review: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

 

Topping out at 80 pages, Seth Godin's The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) is a quick, Sunday afternoon read. I rarely read books about business, I guess because I don't run a business. However, Godin's concept of winning through quitting can be applied to almost any endeavor, not just those of the business world.

At some point in life, most of us have been told, "Never quit," or "quitting is for losers." Should smokers never quit? Should a teenager never quit his first job at a fast food joint? Clearly there are times when quitting is indeed the best choice. According to Godin, "winners do quit, and quitters do win." Quitting can be a great strategy. The secret is knowing what projects to quit and when to do it. If you're going to quit, be a successful quitter.

So when should you quit and when should you stay on board? Godin describes two situations that might lead a person to quit. The first is the Dip, or "A temporary set back that you will overcome if you keep pushing." When you first start a project, you are full of enthusiasm and drive. As things progress, you come to the Dip, where things become more difficult, maybe even painful. This is the point where most people give up, and fail. Successful people, however, push hard through the Dip to reap the benefits on the other side.

Godin's second situation, the Cul-de-Sac, literally means dead end. In this scenario, a person works and works, and never moves in any direction. It's a stand still. Ever heard of a dead end job? It's the perfect example of a Cul-de-Sac. It's not good, it's not bad, and nothing ever changes.

Godin suggests sticking with the Dips and quitting the Cul-de-Sacs. If you quit the projects that aren't going anywhere, you will free up resources for those that have potential for greatness. Being the best at what you do should be your goal for any project. Be the best choice out there, and you will be rewarded. Because few people endure and work through the Dips, there is a scarcity that creates value.

Don't quit when you hit the Dip. People who quit at the Dip usually do so because of short term reasons. It is easier to focus on the immediate pain than the light at the end of the tunnel. Decide if the short term pain is worth the benefits on the other side of the Dip. Godin uses the example of a college student taking a difficult class. It is easier to fight through the class if he or she pictures graduation on the other side.

It takes guts to quit when you're at a dead end, and it also takes guts to persevere when things get tough. Determine ahead of time if something is a Dip or a Cul-de-Sac. Don't spend time and resources on something that is a dead end or isn't worth the prize on the other side. Keep in mind that quitting does not have to equal failing. In fact, quitting can help you avoid failure.

Godin's ultimate advice is to be a smart quitter. He says, "Never quit something with great long term potential just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment." Ignore all the voices that say "quitters are losers." Quitters can most certainly be winners.

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