Every new thing that you start is usually fun and exciting. But, then it gets harder and becomes less fun. You start to lose motivation and you get into a Dip. The Dip can get better if you start pushing or a Cul-de-Sac: something that will never get better no matter how hard you try. In ‘The Dip’, Seth Godin explains when to quit and when to keep pushing forward.
Almost every day, you experience something that you want to give up on. You want to quit. Not all day, but there are moments. Everyone runs into obstacles. Professional obstacles, personal obstacles, even obstacles related to personal fitness or fixing your diet.
You can deal with obstacles by persevering. By still putting in the work, even though you do not feel like it. Sometimes we get discouraged and look for inspiration or motivation. On social media, or in books. Seth Godin cited a writing of Vince Lombardi in his book: “Quitters never win and winners never quit”.
Read that quote again. What do you think about it? Seth Godin thinks it is bad advice. According to Seth Godin, winners quit all the time. They just quit at the right stuff at the right time.
When you feel like quitting, you are most of the time in a Dip. Most people will tell you that you need to persevere – keep hammering at it, put in more hours. “Do not quit!” they implore.
Wrong. Seth Godin noted something profound about that: “But if all you need to do to succeed is not quit, then why do organizations less motivated than yours succeed? Why do less talented people than you win?”
Right?! How does that even work? Well, it involves understanding the architecture of quitting. And that means you have to quit a lot more than you could ever imagine.
In ‘The Dip’, Seth Godin writes that there are two curves that define almost any type of situation facing you as you try to accomplish something. Understanding these two curves, and the different type of situations which can lead you to quit, is the first step forward to getting what you want.
The First Curve: The Dip
On the left we can see the typical curve for the Dip. Almost every situation in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip. When you start something of, it is fun and exciting. A new process, which can be everything. It can be writing your first book, starting a new sport, staring a new course. The people around you encourage it and you feel motivated.
The first few days, weeks, you grow rapidly. The process is new and you can learn and apply a lot of things. Your progression is solid. Whatever your new process is, it is easy to stay engaged in it.
However, that slows down. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. The Dip is the difference between the ‘easy’ beginner technique and the more useful ‘expert’ approach. The Dip is the long stretch between beginner’s luck and real accomplishment.
It is easy being a CEO. What is hard, is getting there. There is a huge Dip along the way. Which is a good thing. Because the Dip creates scarcity. Scarcity is the secret to value. If there was no a dip, there would be no scarcity.
Successful people do not ride the Dip out with patience. No. They go all in. When they acknowledge the Dip, they go even harder. They fight against it and change the rules as they go. Just because you are in the Dip does not mean you have to stay in it and be content. That way the Dip lasts longer. Maybe even forever. The real winners go against the Dip.
The Second Curve: The Cul-de-Sac
On the right we can see the curve for the Cul-de-Sac, which is French for ‘Dead End’. This curve is so simple that is needs no explanation nor chart. It is a situation where you work and keep working hard, but nothing changes. No matter what you do, there is no improvement. It does not get a lot better and it does not get a lot worse. It just is.
The one thing you need to understand about the Cul-de-Sac, is that it exists. When you realize you are facing one, you need to get out there, quickly. Get off it. A dead end is simply a waste of time. When you find one, you need to quit it because you are wasting away other opportunities.
The Third Curve: The Cliff
Most of the time the first two curves are in force. However, Seth Godin also added a bonus curve, the Cliff. The Cliff is like a cigarrette. It is designed to be almost impossible to quit. The longer you do it, the better it feels to continue.
The same is for the third situation, the third curve, the Cliff. When you work hard at something the pain of quitting just gets bigger and bigger over time. You cannot quit, because you feel like you have invested so much in the situation. Your time, your emotion, maybe even your money. The Cliff is a situation where you cannot quit until you fall of, and the whole thing falls apart.
The Dip is where success happens
You have probably realized by now that most worthwhile things have a Dip Which is a good thing, because the Dip creates scarcity. And as I said before: scarcity creates value. That, is where success comes from.
The people who go all in on the Dip and work through it, are the ones who become the best in their field. They are the ones that go above and beyond everyone else. They do not try to achieve something slightly above average, they try to achieve world-class status through embracing the Dip and going all in.
On the other hand, the Cul-de-Sac and the Cliff are the curves that lead to failure. You need to recognize them. Quit them early.
Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.