Lessons Learned from the Dip
Winners never quit and quitters never win, right? Wrong! Winners quit all the time. Winners quit the things that aren’t working or the things that won’t pay off in the long run. They move on to where they can be their best. Perhaps the best in the world.
Winners don’t quit when it gets tough. In fact, that’s exactly the wrong time to quit. That’s where the Dip comes in. The Dip is that long curve between starting out and making it to the top. It’s where you find the resistance that can wear you down and make you want to quit. But it’s that same resistance that creates the scarcity at the top. And the top is where your greatest rewards lie. In The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick), Seth Godin writes about quitting and sticking more effectively.
Lessons Learned from the Dip
Here’s my key lessons learned from the Dip:
- Winners quit. Winners do quit and winners do win.
- Being the best is the best place to be. Being the best in the world is seriously underrated
- Winners quit more effectively. Quit the wrong stuff, stick with the right stuff.
- Know the Dips. If you know the dips in place that encourage quitting, you’re more likely to beat them.
- Scarcity at the top makes it worth something. Those at the top get exponential rewards. See Zipf’s Law.
- Best in the world is relative. It’s best for them, right now based on what they believe and in their world, the one they have access to.
- The world’s getting bigger and smaller. The world’s getting bigger because you can look everywhere, but it’s also getting smaller because categories are getting specialized.
- It’s better to be the best. People pick the market leaders. People narrow their choices to the top
- Be exceptional in the areas that matter. Being well-rounded is not the secret to success. In a free market, the exceptional get the rewards.
- Figure out what you don’t know. Superstars don’t skip the questions they don’t know; they get really good at figuring them out.
- Getting there is the tough part. It’s easy to be a CEO, but it’s hard to get there.
- Lean into the Dip. Successful people don’t just ride out the Dip; they lean into it.
- Where there’s scarcity, there’s value. The Dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.
- Adversity is your ally. It insulates you from the competition.
- The winds of change turn easy problems into hard ones. Every function in an organization has a wind problem. The wind is unpredictable. The difficult and unpredictable works to your advantage. We’re here to solve the hard problems.
- Obsession and success go hand in hand. The real success goes to those who obsess.
- Recognize when you’re in a Dip. Knowing that you’re in a dip is the first step in getting through it.
- Stick with the Dips that make sense. Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Cul-De-Sacs to focus your resources.
- Pick your dip. If you enter a market too big or too loud for your resources available, your message gets lost.
- Change your approach. The opposite of quitting is rededication – an invigorated new strategy to break the problem apart.
- Have a realistic, long-term view. Persistent people visualize light at the end of the tunnel when others can’t see it and the smartest people are realistic and don’t imagine light when there isn’t any.
- Stay committed to your outcome, but flexible in your approach. Don’t quit your long term strategy, quit the tactics that aren’t working.
- Quitting isn’t failing. Quitting is not the same as failing and coping is a lousy alternative.
- Pride is the enemy of the smart quitter. Don’t let your ego get in the way of your effectiveness.
- One person or organization will behave differently than a market of people will. The market doesn’t have just one mind. Different people in the market are seeking different things.
- Influencing one person is like scaling a wall. If you make it over in the first few tries you’re in, otherwise the wall gets higher.
- Influencing a market is more like a hill than a wall. The higher you get the easier it gets and people in the market influence each other.
- Don’t quit a market or a strategy or a niche. Quit a product or a feature or a design. Don’t fall in love with a tactic forever. Decide if you’re in a market and get through the Dip. Your strategy – to be a trusted source in your chosen market – can survive even if your product is canceled.
- 7 reasons you might fail to become the best in the world: You run out of time, you run out of money, you get scared, you’re not serious about it, you lose interest or enthusiasm and settle for being mediocre, you focus on the short term instead of the long, you pick the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world.
- Eight dip curves: manufacturing Dip, sales Dip, education Dip, risk Dip, relationship Dip, conceptual Dip, ego Dip, distribution Dip.
Seth identifies 3 curves:
- Curve 1: the Dip. Almost everything worth doing is controlled by the Dip. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The Dip is where success happens. Stick it out, only if you’re going to get the benefits of being the best in the world.
- Curve 2: the Cul-De-Sac. You work and work and work, but nothing much changes. These are dead-end jobs. If you’re in a Cul-De-Sac or Cliff, you need to quit. You need to quit these so you can refocus on something with promise.
- Curve 3: the Cliff. It’s a situation where you can’t quit until you fall off.
Brave, Mature, and Stupid
Seth says you can be brave, mature or stupid about a given Dip:
The brave thing to do is tough it out and end up on the other side – getting all the benefits that come from scarcity. The mature thing is to not even both starting to snowboard because you’re probably not going to make it through the Dip. The stupid thing to do is to start, give it your best shot, waste a lot of time and money, and quit, right in the middle of the Dip.
The Real Success Goes to Those Who Obsess
Seth shows the value of focus through a woodpecker example:
And yet the real success goes to those who obsess. The focus that leads you through the Dip to the other side is rewarded by a marketplace in search of the best in the world. A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.
Remind Yourself of Life at the Other End of the Dip
Seth says to remind yourself of the end in mind to make it through the Dips:
Short-term pain has more impact on most people than long-term benefits do, which is why it’s important for you to amplify the long-term benefits of not quitting. You need to remind yourself of life at the other end of the Dip because it’s easier to overcome the pain of yet another unsuccessful cold call if the reality of the successful sales career is more concrete.
3 Questions to Ask Before Quitting
Seth provides 3 questions to ask before you quit:
- Question 1: Am I panicking? The wrong time to quit the Dip is when you’re panicking. The best quitters decide in advance when they’re going to quit.
- Question 2: Who am I trying to influence? Influencing one person is more like scaling a wall, but influencing a market is more like taking a hill.
- Question 3: What sort of measurable progress am I making? You’ve got to make some sort of forward progress, no matter how small.
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