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Speed Review: The Dip

A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Speed Review: The Dip
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Sometimes Quitters Win

Everyone associates the path to success with hard work, dedication and sometimes, a little bit of luck. But the secret to success isn’t luck, and it isn’t hard work or dedication. According to best-selling author and dynamic lecturer, Seth Godin, the true secret to success is quitting. In his latest book, The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), Godin explains that truly successful individuals and organizations are ones who are not afraid to quit, and who know what to quit and when to quit it.

According to Godin, “Most of the time, we deal with the obstacles by persevering. Sometimes we get discouraged and turn to inspirational writing, like stuff from Vince Lombardi: ‘Quitters never win and winners never quit.’ Bad advice. Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

Are You in a Dip or a Cul-de-Sac?
While Godin believes quitting can be productive, he doesn’t advocate it in all forms: “Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations. Reactive and serial quitting are the bane of those that strive (and fail) to get what they want.” Godin describes the two most common situations that lead people to quit — the “Dip” and the “Cul-de-Sac.”

The Dip is the long, hard period between beginning something new and finally mastering it. It’s after the excitement of those first beginning days has worn off and before the fulfillment of your dream. And it’s the time during which, although it seems quite reasonable to quit, you should stick things out. Why? Because, says Godin, “almost everything in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip.”

And while the Dip may seem long and painful, the good news is that it’s actually a shortcut to success. The Dip weeds out the competition. It is analogous to the grueling midpoint of the marathon or the brutal hazing conducted by the best fraternity on campus. This is the point at which many give up. Therefore, if you can make it through the Dip, you’ll come out on the other side as one of a very small number who can call themselves the best in their chosen field. And being the best carries big rewards. Microsoft, Stephen King and Starbucks all survived the Dip.

The secret to dealing with the Dip, Godin maintains, is to figure out beforehand if you’re willing to see your project all the way through and if it’s worth doing. If you’re not willing or the pay-off isn’t big enough, quit before you enter the Dip. If you begin the Dip, be prepared to persevere, because quitting in the middle is the worst waste of your effort and potential. Godin also reminds his readers to follow through when the end of the Dip is near. “No one quits the Boston Marathon at mile 25,” he writes. “Who, after all, is going to drop out when the finish line is in sight?”

Still, sometimes, we commit ourselves to completing a project or staying with a company or relationship only to discover later that the situation has stagnated and there is no potential for real growth. This is what Godin calls a “Cul-de-Sac.” While the Dip gets better if you push hard enough, Cul-de-Sacs never improve, no matter how hard you try. Success lies in recognizing a situation or relationship as a Cul-de-Sac and not being afraid to quit when you do. According to Godin, all Cul-de-Sacs do is drain your energy and resources, diverting your attention away from making it through a worthwhile Dip.

Why We Like This Book
Godin presents a truly motivational look at the paradox of quitting as a key ingredient to success and makes a very strong case against the “quitters never win” adage. It’s not that quitters don’t win, but more that only the savvy, courageous ones do.

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