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Seth Godin and the Dip

Seth Godin teaches you when to quit or stick?

 
Seth Godin

I read a lot of references about Seth Godin but had not actually read anything by him and when I heard he had made his 5000 post on his blog, I thought I should check him out. I came across his book The Dip and read it in a couple of hours. I am not
bragging that I read it so quickly or that it was a book that I could not put down, it is just that it is a very little book and is a very easy read.

It is a little book but in fact it could have been shorten to one sentence: “Quit when you know you will not be successful, stick when you know you will be successful.”

The advise is simple enough and I am not sure why more people do not know about such a simple formula but I guess that is why the book needed to be written. Sometimes we just do not see the obvious until someone else points it out for us.

Seth even suggest that if you are not going to be successful avoid the dip all together by not trying. The question I have is how do you know if you are going to be successful until you have tried.

cover of the dip by seth godinHis example on page 54 uses the Boston Marathon as an analogy of succeeding when you can see that you are going to reach your goal and sticking through the urge to quit. He states that no one quits the race when they are in the last 25 miles because they can see the finish line.

This made me think how many runners who enter the marathon believe they will finish first. If the only runners who enter the race were runners who knew they would finish first, how many would enter the race. There must be some other reason for entering the race. There must be something more important to them then finishing first. Perhaps just being able to cross the finish line is a worthy goal.

If you are the second and third runner and you see number one about to cross the finish line should you quit because you know you are not going to finish in first place? The book does recommend quitting as an intelligent strategy.

On page 60 Mr. Godin tells us a story about poor Doug. Doug it seems has worked very hard in business development and sales. He handled the Microsoft account for seven years until he got a promotion and was put in charge of a division of 150 people the second largest division in the company. Then apparently tragedy strikes and Doug is promoted again. However it is only a lateral promotion to strategic alliances where he is well respected and is making a lot of money. Poor Doug he has worked his way into a respected division and is making a lot of money. Seth says it is time for him to quit and why should he quit, because Doug has hit a plateau. A plateau, doesn’t that mean he has made it out of the dip. He is on a plateau! I thought that was the point of the book. Doug worked through the dip. He made it to the top but Seth states that Doug is in a cul-de-sac and that his career is over.
the seth godin dip graph

Now I live on a street with a cul-de-sac at both ends of the street. I like it because there is very little traffic on our street and that brings up my second disagreement. Maybe some people like living on the cul-de-sac. Maybe Doug likes where he is. Maybe he likes being well respected and making a lot of money. I think he should be congratulated for his accomplishments. Doug ran the marathon and crossed the finish line.

I do agree with Seth that the dip creates a scarce percentage of people who will achieve number one because not everyone can endure the obstacles that confront them. The dip creates quality because mediocre will never be able to get out of the dip. I also agree that we need to reevaluate our game plan in order to determine if we are on the right track to our accomplishments. We have to be able to develop a long term plan so that we will be able to cut our losses if we see that we are not reaching the original goals. Unfortunately I don’t think the book accomplishes it’s goal. I don’t think the book offers anything instructive in determining when to quit or when to stick. I did conclude that may be what we need to learn is not when to quit or stick but when to alter our goals.

If you have any thoughts on The Dip by Seth Godin please post them. May be you got something out of the book that I missed.

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