Perplexed by some of the on-goings in the workplace, I headed out to Barnes & Noble in search of something to settle my mind and grant me clarity. I did not know what I was looking for but knew the section I was headed to: Business and Personal Finance. I begin to peruse some of the titles, pulling a book of the shelf, placing it back until I came across this 96 page book. The Dip by Seth Godin. The author familiar, as I use to follow his blog and have more recently heard Dave Ramsey’s recommendations of his writings.  Being as frugal (read cheap) as I am, I curled up in one of the comfy chairs with my Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte and begin to read.

The extended title is A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick).  This book is a fresh perspective of what to do when we find ourselves in ‘the dip’.  ‘The dip’ is the place where, after having embarked on a new endeavor, the fun and exciting stage has worn off and hits a low point. The place where it’s not fun anymore and actually gets hard.  What we need is the insight to determine if the low point we’re in is just a temporary set back that we can overcome if we push through or is it what Godin terms a cul-de-sac.  A cul-de-sac is just that. The dead end where no matter how much harder you try nothing gets better or worse. The successful are able to identify a cul-de-sac quickly, get out and quit until they find a pursuit that is worth sticking it out.

Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right Stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.

They recognize the greater the dip, the greater the reward. Knowing that some people won’t be able to handle the dip, the winners know if they make it out the other side they would have attained the number one position by creating a scarcity and coming out on top.

So why is that we don’t quit even after we recognize we’re in the cul-de-sac? Well, It’s easier to stick with it… not make waves… it’s familiar and thereby comfortable… it doesn’t hurt.

But what about creating a dip? Create a dip so long and deep that others can’t keep up or catch up. Godin relates to the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundace Kid. In trying to escape from Pinkerton’s men, Butch ran to the hills. He kept pursuing harder terrain, knowing that the other men wouldn’t be able to keep up and would probably quit. Butch persisted and escaped with his life.

So what is it about coming out on top? being number one?  If only the best survive and the ones that make it through are scarce, then value has just been created.

It may be easy to be a CEO but the hard part is getting there. There’s a big dip, and if there wasn’t a dip there would be no scarcity. Everyone could be CEO.  Successful people don’t just ride out the dip. They buckle down and get ready, they anticipate it, they push harder and change the rules.  At the onset they prepare for the dip, are willing to invest time and energy into being number one. They are not giving up, settling for where they are, accepting mediocrity or playing it safe.

If you do realize you’re in the cul-de-sac, quit it to free up resources to focus on the dips that matter. Have the foresight to not start something if you can’t win and be the best in the world. Quitting does not mean failing. Failing is when you give up and your dreams are over. You may quit certain tactics but don’t quit on the big idea.  One of the reasons quitting is so difficult is because we must admit to ourselves that we’re not number one.  It’s easier to put it off, not admit it and settle for mediocre.

But if you are going to quit, decide in advance at what stage you will quit. Don’t quit out of panic. You need to have a plan. If you make a decision based on how you feel at the moment you’ll probably make the wrong decision. The time to look for a new job is when you don’t need one, before it gets comfortable.  Ask yourself, can I be number one? Will my persistence pay off in the long run?

Another example sited by Godin is that of Jack Welch at GE. He decided to quit a profitable billion-dollar division that was ranked #4 in market share. What he knew was that if he couldn’t be number one, he didn’t want to waste anymore resources, capital and energy on that division.  He refocused those resources to help the other divisions get through the dip and pursue number one.

There are usually three responses: do the brave, mature or stupid thing.

The brave tough it out, come out the other side with the benefit of scarcity.

The mature thing to do is not to even start it at all, save your resources and time.

The stupid start it, give it their best shot, waste time and money and then quit in the middle of the dip.

So be brave, have the insight to recognize the dips from the cul-de-sac’s, don’t be afraid to quit what’s not working, and have the strength to pursue the truly worthwhile.

If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.