When Quitting is Winning - Tips from The Dip

Is it true that quitters never win and winners never quit?

Well, the answer is no - at least according to Seth Godin, business blogger extraordinaire and prolific author of small "hit 'em hard" books.

In the 80 odd pages of "The Dip", Seth proclaimed that "winners do quit and quitters do win" - provided they do so in the right context. By focusing on the few areas that make a huge difference while getting rid of everything else, one could aspire to be the best in the world, reaping disproportionate profits that come with it. This "profit pocket" is where you should aspire to be in the Long-Tail (a concept by Wired magazine's Chris Anderson).

Courtesy of Seth Godin

One of the book's central idea revolves around three curves:

The first, called the Dip, is one which starts off easy during the initial stages, before plummeting into long and difficult stretch. To succeed, one needs to surmount the U-shaped pit and emerge victorious. It looks like this:

Courtesy of First 90 Days of Outside Sales

The second curve is the deadly Cul-de-Sac (or dead-end in French) where one just works and works without anything happen. This is the route of those who contend with just being average and getting stuck on a plateau. The third curve is the Cliff, where one could rise all the way to the top but suddenly plummet downwards. I think the corporate burnout of jet-setting executives could be symptomatic of this.

Courtesy of Pratolo.com

The book next explained the entire strategy of quitting, and gives good advice on how one can quit smartly. Quitting in the Dip is a bad idea. One shouldn't quit in the midst of panic or difficulty. Instead, one should plan ahead on the appropriate juncture in which to throw in the towel BEFORE encountering the Dip.

Sticking to one's guns should only be adopted if one is absolutely sure that one is in a Dip that is worth persevering for. In Seth's view, projects stuck in Cul-de-Sacs like the Space Shuttle and the Vietnam War should have been terminated long ago. Pride shouldn't be a reasons for sticking it out to the end.

Do you agree that the Space Shuttle is a bad idea? (source)

Personally, I found the mantras in the book edifying. Focusing on the one or two things where one can be the "best in the world" is an invaluable lesson for many of us guilty of being distracted by the "flavours of the month". One is also challenged to consider quitting with foresight and preparation, and not when the going gets tough.

However, one should not use the book as an excuse to seek the easy way out in one's job, family life, social circles, or exercise regime. While aspiring to be the world's greatest is a noteworthy goal, one should also be careful about chasing after rainbows in the pursuit of perfection and end up becoming a serial quitter.

PS - Check out my buddy Daniel's review of this book too.

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