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The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) Hardcover – May 10, 2007
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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A little book with a big idea, "The Dip" reveals that the system is stacked against the people who don't know when to quit (and when to stick).
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Seth Godin takes on the topic of quitting and places the whole idea into a whole new perspective. There is always talk about failure and quitting on social media and in particular education. This book challenges many of the common ideas often discussed. Here are some of the key ideas that stood out to me in no particular order that will hopefully inspire you to read the book for yourself and provide some ideas for you to think about.
1. Never quitting is bad advice. Right from the start he argues one of the most common ideas quoted time and time again. He says that the quote from Vince Lombardi, “Quitters never win and winners never quit.” is bad advice. Instead he claims that winners “quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
2. Zipf’s Law – This law is mentioned in the book so I had to look it up on wikipedia. I am instantly fascinated by this concept where we basically love winners. Not just winners, but the whole idea that frequency is key. When something wins it usually wins big. Think about the popular records, box office, tv shows, books, etc. The top of the top sell more than anyone else. You could be 2nd or third, but end up way behind. Now that I aware of this law I start to notice it time and time again.
3. Well Rounded is Bad Advice – Anytime education is challenged my ears perk up. Seth states, “Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success.” I have to agree 100%. I shared this graphic a few posts back and also here specifically about this topic so reading this book after further cemented my beliefs.
Who are You-
4. The Cul-De-Sac
I love this thought. I really do. And I think it is the state of education. Basically it means a “situation where you work and you work and nothing much changes. It doesn’t get a lot better, it doesn’t get a lot worse. It just is.” Not only is this happening in education, but it happens in our own personal lives. This idea seems so simple and yet I keep going back to it. I think it goes much deeper once you move past the surface of simply a definition. Sometimes we have to get on the highway….(my new idea developing from this neighborhood metaphor)
5. I think that the reason many live in a cul-de-sac is because it is easy to be mediocre. It is easy to blend in. Quitting is hard because you must admit that you are not number one. This is tough for many of us. We don’t like to admit these type of things so we will continue to do things just so we are not quitters. Our society has pushed our thinking to believe that quitting is bad.
6. The key to quitting is understanding The Dip. We must learn when to quit. We don’t want to quit at the wrong time. We have to realize that the systems in place want us to quit. They operate on us quitting. If we can push past the dip and not quit, then we hit the results of being number one. We breakthrough and hit new levels of success that cannot we believe we can achieve. What is the dip? Well, read the book!
7. The one idea that makes sense, but I struggle with agreeing with is if we are going to quit we must quit before we start. If we cannot be the best in the world he suggests we don’t even try. I don’t know how I feel about that. I think we have to shoot for the stars sometimes. Perhaps I must define what it means to be the best in the world. Does this mean I must be an Olympian in running? No, I think he is going after something much grander in concept, but it is important to at least think about the message. When thinking about quitting we have to think about…….
8. Two Choices – Don’t be average. If you find yourself being average you must make a decision. Either you quit or be exceptional. “Average is for losers”. This is a tough pill to swallow, but a necessary one. I think about my life and things that I want to fix. If I quit the things that are just average in my life due to average work and commitment I could really push some elements to be exceptional by freeing up time and energy spent on doing things average in my life in the cul-de-sac. This idea is one that has hit home with me and is really forcing me to think through things deeply.
Those are just a few ideas that really stood out to me when I finished the book. I have many more passages highlighted, but if I shared everything then what would be the point to read the book? This book packs a lot in 80 pages, but that is what Seth Godin does.
If you are interested in his other books here are the others I have read and recommend.
My favorite book of his so far. I have read this one many times! Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin http://amzn.to/1IxiiLK
Oh man, this one is so good also! Purple Cow by Seth Godin http://amzn.to/1IxilYa
Poke the Box by Seth Godin http://amzn.to/1JFluKL
Damn straight. This book is an exercise in brevity. I often recommend that readers preview a key chapter before deciding whether to commit to a book. No need with this one--just take an extra 20 minutes and read the whole thing. Borrow it instead of buying it; the key points will stick with you.
Godin's points are straightforward:
* Comes a time in doing anything when it gets hard and stops being fun.
* If it is something you can be the best at, stick with it through the "dip."
* If it isn't something you can excel at, quit. And excel at something else.
* Learn to recognize such "cul-de-sacs" and avoid even starting such paths.
* Endlessly coping without either excelling or quitting is a trap.
* Systems are designed to exploit "copers" in various ways. Beware.
* There are eight common causes of "dips." Beware some more.
That's pretty much it. There are some good stories about Vince Lumbardi, Butch Cassidy, the space shuttle, and Microsoft. But they build on the main points. There is good advice here. It would be worth your time, even if it were longer.
Lots of reviewers are critical of this book for the very reason that it's simple and general in nature. I believe some of them are missing the point.
It's not about hard work paying off. it's about giving up bad tactics, bad strategies and bad beliefs. Quitting them in essence. Giving up the things that don't work and won't work for you. Give up old and ingrained habits. Give up being part of 25 hobbies or scattering yourself over dozens of attempts at things.
For me this book really describes the last year of my life at work. I've been in the dip again and didn't even realize it had a name. For me it was about not just putting in my time, which is never that simple to get ahead, but deciding to 'lean into the dip'. While others were choosing to resign themselves to misery and drudgery, I chose to do some of my best work ever as a programmer and analyst. Now while others have come through, still miserable and nothing changed for them, I'm taking over planning their work and managing contractors. Oh well for them.
I'm endorsing this book because I've lived it several times in my life already. It's really simple. Like Yodda, 'do or do not'.