Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just QUIT!

I had to read a book that has a cover stating, “A LITTLE BOOK THAT TEACHES YOU HOW TO QUIT”.

The Dip by Seth Godin is a succinct 80 pages, presents glaringly obvious but understated facts. Not to be a cliché but this MUST read. Is it right to take an 80 page book and summarize it in one sentence? Know what will make you quit, why your quitting, and use quitting as a strategy…in other words, quit when you know you're on a dead end path. Godin states that most people fail because they either quit too fast and too often or they fail to quit pouring the resources into activities that they know will not pay off in the long run.

I am just as guilty as the next person; whether it be sports, academics, business, or relationships…it is hard for me to quit things and we all can get emotionally wrapped up in things and lose perspective. On the other hand I know people who never get passionate about anything and quit before it gets to hard.

Godin defines life-paths as curves. Of these there are two primary curves: The Dip and the Cul-de-Sac. The Cul-de-Sac curve is a dead end; you keep putting time, money, and effort into it and you just get nowhere. The Dip on the other hand looks something like this:

When you first start down a path, you are really excited about it so the reward is high. Additionally, other people are very happy for you and praise you - again, the reward is high. Then, in between the beginning of a task and its mastery, there is a potentially long period in which the reward vs. effort drops off. What the book guides the reader through questions and situations towards identifying whether your current struggle is a "dip" or a "cul-de-sac", and emphasizes that the moment you recognize that your situation is a dead end, that it is not only OK to quit, but it is, in fact, essential to success.

VERY FAST READ…I read slow and finished it in less than one afternoon.

One of the most interesting points I took away is that the world is becoming both smaller and bigger at the same time. While Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat shows us how the Internet has leveled the playing field…there is still room for small businesses if they put forward all their efforts to accomplish being #1 in their ‘niche’ market which can be defined by the product, the service, or the geography. In other words the world is infinitely small because of “The Best Pancake House in the World is in Conneat on the Lake”. How is this possible? It’s because Johnson’s Pancake House choose to be #1 in Pancakes serving Lake Erie. So are they really the best in the world? I don’t know but we all have made a similar statement about a product or service because someone choose to be #1 in their niche.

If you want to make sure your business strategy is on target, your marketing efforts aren’t in vain, have any doubts about what direction you are heading, whether all the exercise is worth it, then ask yourself 3 questions and see if you’re in the “DIP”.

Page 27 – The next time you're tempted to vilify a particularly obnoxious customer or agency or search engine, realize that this failed interaction is the best thing that's happened to you all day long. Without it, you'd be easily replaceable. The Dip is your very best friend.

Page 29 – ... the real success goes to those who obsess. The focus that leads you through the Dip to the other side is rewarded by a marketplace in search of the best in the world. A woodpecker can tap twenty times on a thousand trees and get nowhere, but stay busy. Or he can tap twenty-thousand times on one tree and get dinner.

Page 31 – It's human nature to quit when it hurts. But it's that reflex that creates scarcity. The challenge is simple: Quitting when you hit the Dip is a bad idea. If the journey you started was worth doing, then quitting when you hit the Dip just wastes the time you've already invested. Quit in the Dip often enough and you'll find yourself becoming a serial quitter, starting many things but accomplishing little. Simple: If you can't make it through the Dip, don't start.

Page 63 – Quitting is not the same as failing. Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. [and] Coping is a lousy alternative to quitting.

Page 66 – Sunk costs are not a good excuse to not quitting. Seth then goes on to challenge each of us to ask 3 questions which will help us determine where we are and if it is time to quit or stick it out…

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