Book Club #12: The Dip, by Seth Godin

quitSeth Godin has been a prolific blogger and author for many years now. He is particularly dedicated to helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and develop robust mindsets. 

The Dip, which has a subtitle that promises to teach you “when to quit and when to stick” develops a very specific theme across its 96 pages.

Seth explores a theme which was covered in a wildly popular Freakonomics Radio episode from 2011: quitting.  The premise that is questioned is simple: Is it true that “winners never quit”?  

Seth’s answer is quite emphatically “No.”  Winners quit all the time, and he gives stories about a number of famous business people to back up his argument.  

What is “The Dip”?

Simply, the dip is the hard and difficult road between being barely competent in something and being the best in the world (Seth argues that being the best in the world should be a primary goal).  

There are only a few spots at the top, Seth notes, and you should be okay with quitting if it’s not clear to you that a) you have the desire to get to the top or b) you have the ability to do so.

Now, while we don’t share Seth’s idea that “best in the world” is the only goal possible/desirable, we would argue that high levels of personal satisfaction and competence should be at the end of the road. You need to be okay with quitting, and quitting quickly, if those aren’t on the horizon. Hope is not a strategy.

Persistence is Overrated

Perhaps the biggest lesson in this short book apart from giving people “permission” to quit (against all the social pressure not to) is to remind us that persistence isn’t everything.  

People can keep pounding their heads against the walls for many years for nothing other than the alleged “virtue” of persistence for its own sake. Seth is reminding us to make sure we’re clear on what our “why” is.

If we know why we’re doing what we’re doing, combined with a realistic look at whether we can accomplish our goals, the persistence will make sense and be the best part of the journey. Otherwise, it can be the anchor that holds us back from so many other possibilities.

As one year closes and a new one opens, it’s a great time to audit our lives and ask if there are any things in our business or personal life that need quitting, once we’ve given them “the Dip” treatment.