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May 5, 2019

When to quit & when to stick

My takeaways after reading 'The Dip' by Seth Godin

A little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick)

This book introduced me to the concept of ‘Strategic quitting’. Quitting is not a bad thing or a moral failing, but only if done right.

Initially, during every venture, project or activity worth doing, everything is great. There is excitement and working on it seems like a breath of fresh air. Up until you enter the Dip. You start to realize the struggles and challenges you have to tackle in order to be exceptional. Everything you must go through before being successful, that's the Dip.

You can:

  • Quit right now, understanding that you don’t have the capacity to be extraordinary and will be stuck in a dead end
  • Keep on going, wasting time & money, and eventually quit in the long run
  • Give your everything and conquer the Dip

Let's analyze it a bit more.

In the first situation, someone realizes that they can never give their whole attention to this matter. They choose to strategically quit. They didn’t fail - as Seth Godin states "The opposite of quitting is rededication". This person is going to turn their attention to something new that they can go all the way in.

But in the second scenario the person is refusing to quit while not looking to be the best in the world in that field. This could be sticking to a job just for the safety, while they were not growing, or someone trying to dethrone a market leader without being obsessed about it.

Lastly, in the third option, the person is aware of the benefits that will inevitably come their way and conquer ‘the Dip’. They pushed when others wouldn't. They gave the extra effort, when others settled for mediocrity. No everyone can be an Astronaut but everyone wants to see the Earth from above. The Dip ensures that these are a selected few.

About serial quitting

Now there is something that needs addressing. Everything needs to be in moderation. Serial quitting offers no benefit. People who quit the Dip, do it because they want to allocate their undivided attention to something different. Throwing a hissy fit and quitting just because something has short-term pain is plain wrong.

My takeaway is that before trying out this new idea, one has to make a plan beforehand on under which conditions they will withdraw their attention. Everything that can go wrong will go wrong, so we must guard against our little voice in our heads that urges us to step back. We will only quit for the right reasons.

"Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time."

"It’s human nature to quit when it hurts. But it’s that reflex that creates scarcity."

"(...) Quitting as a short-term strategy is a bad idea. Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea."

Bit sized info

Society assumes you’re going to quit. Business and organizations count on it

That was something very interesting to read but it makes sense really. Gyms make money by having lots of unused active subscriptions. Top companies still run the dreaded whiteboard interviews. Airlines overbook their flights.

So if you're quitting, best make sure it's because it's a calculated decision.

If anything, just leave with these quotes

"Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new"

"Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than the most"