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What I learned about quitting from Seth Godin’s ‘The Dip’

A book review and analysis on the phenomenon ‘the Dip’ by Seth Godin. It looks at how we overcome the obstacle which is progression and helps understand when and when not to quit.

Book Cover- Seth Godin

1. Being the best is underrated

“Scarcity makes being at the top worth something”- Seth Godin

A key idea right at the beginning of the book is this view that Being the best in the world is underrated. There are extraordinary benefits to those who push longer than most and quit early on things that don’t work so they can refocus.

Seth explains people don’t have the time, money, or risk to go hunting around for a second-class option- they have to go for the top person for the job. Being the best in the world allows you to capture people at a premium due to scarcity.

In a free market, we reward the exceptional, no.1 gets x10 more benefits than that of no.10, winners win big because the marketplace loves a winner. It only makes sense that you chase after being the best otherwise you might as well not even start.

Two big things to remember:

Best is subjective- we often think we know what is the best, however, it is the customer that decides what is best.

‘World’ is selfish- our definition of best in the world is not for us to decide. It is for others to decide based on their conveniences/ preferences.

2. Becoming the best is quite simple

“Are you hoping to become a success because you’re the only one being considered”- Seth Godin

The premise behind ‘the dip’ is the idea that with most things in life; relationships, work, hobbies – we will inevitability reach a dip when the effort we put in doesn’t equate to the same amount of results it once did.

‘The Dip’ Graph- Seth Godin

This curve usually separates the average from the best in the world. Those who stay average usually quit when the going gets tough or stay where the dip is- not progressing due to the hardship of the situation.

We all have had that feeling- starting something new; it’s really fun and we learn a lot, see a lot of results, progress and there is very little hardship. The dip is something that is inevitable though and for some things, it is earlier rather than later. The key is to lean into it. Successful people push harder in this period of life and as a result, the dip doesn’t last as long.

So you have something you want to be amazing at the key is to work hard and obsess over the singular problem at hand. Often people diversify to get that same feeling they had when starting something new, however, the dip is actually our friend- it pushes us to train, educate ourselves or work harder to overcome this dip.

All we have to do is simplify and lean into the dip.

Seven reasons you might fail to become the best in the world:

  1. you run out of time (and quit)
  2. you run out of money (and quit)
  3. you get scared (and quit)
  4. you’re not serious about it (and quit)
  5. you lose interest and enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit)
  6. you focus on the short term instead of the long term (and quit when the short term gets too hard)
  7. you pick the wrong thing at which to be the best thing in the world (because you don’t have the talent and quit)

3. Quitting is okay

“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time”- Seth Godin

Being average is for losers. Playing it safe doesn’t allow you to get anywhere and you will be stuck in the dip forever. If you can’t get through the dip you need to quit. However, there are two ways of quitting:

  • Strategic quitting- is the secret to successful organisations
  • Reactive/ Serial quitting- is the bane of those that strive and fail to get what they want

It’s that age-old saying isn’t it “Quitters never win and winners never quit”- Vince Lombardi, it was told to me by my parents and probably their parents. The school system tells us this and pushes us to be great at lots of subjects rather than to quit the things we aren’t good at. Quitting for the short term is a bad idea, quitting for the long term is an excellent idea.

Like the curve you read about above there is another curve- the cul-de-sac; where efforts and results plateau and you remain paralysed unable to progress.

‘Cul-de-sac’ graph- Seth Godin

In real-world terms, this would equate to a dead-end job and there’s not a lot to say about these other than you need to get out of them fast. Many would argue against this- however, like all ‘cul-de-sac’ curves in your life they take a massive toll on your opportunity to invest in things you really care about. Cul-de-sacs are easy and that’s why people remain in them, but they are rarely life-giving, fulfilling, or in alignment with your callings.

So if you find yourself in a position like this- quit! But before you do answer these three questions:

  1. am I panicking?
  2. who am I trying to influence?
  3. what sort of measurable progress am I making?

Quitting is often a very emotional thing; so to move it from being reactive to strategic you need to outline your quitting strategy way before the discomfort sets in. You then are recognised for your principles, your strength for when the going gets tough, and when you do quit you’ll be more at peace- recognising future opportunities to come.

“decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop and drop out… if you are making a decision based on how you feel at that moment, you will probably make the wrong decision” — Dick Collins

4. Ten key takeaways

  1. quit the wrong stuff, stick with the right stuff, have the guts to do one or the other.
  2. don’t settle for being good enough, be the best you are capable of, the best in the world.
  3. don’t diversify, focus your resources/ time, overcome the dip and become the best in the world.
  4. all the benefits come at the end and unsuccessful people stop just a bit too early- if you can’t make it through the dip don’t start.
  5. quitting creates scarcity; scarcity creates value
  6. you want to create a dip so massive that any of your competitors can’t overcome it.
  7. average is for losers, to be a superstar you must do something exceptional.
  8. selling is about the transference of emotion, not just a presentation of facts.
  9. stick to a market even if you quit a project or strategy- become a trusted source in that market- prove you can survive even if your product can’t.
  10. be realistic whether the pain of the dip is worth the benefit at the light at the end of the tunnel.

‘The Dip’ by Seth Godin was easily one of my favorite reads last year and I highly recommend it to everyone. Hopefully, you found my learnings from the book helpful and I wish you all the best in the journey to overcome the dip and become the best in the world!

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