The Dip: A good reason to say No

by Mike Clayton  - June 14, 2012

Seth Godin blogged a few days ago to remind readers of a little book he wrote in 2007, called ‘The Dip.

This was an important book for me to read – not least because, when my review copy arrived from Training Journal, it was the first time I had heard the name Seth Godin.

I read the book quickly and then, I recall, I read it again: it’s a short book. It gave me a clear idea for how I needed to change my work life and its message focused my mind even more clearly, some fifteen months ago, when I made perhaps my biggest business decision since choosing to run my own business, at the end of 2001.

It also influences some of my writing: I refer to it in Brilliant Time Management and, without a doubt, its message helped me in resolving one section of my forthcoming book (September 2012, currently).

So, I thought it appropriate to reproduce the review I wrote for Training Journal, shortly after its first UK publication.


The Dip

The extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit (and when to stick)

Author: Seth Godin
ISBN: 0-7499-2830-1
Pages: 80

This is a short book with a single, simple message. I like that. And, the author tells us that what he is saying isn’t new – we know it already, but just don’t act on that knowledge. He’s right, and I like his candour. It means I can’t give him five stars for innovation, but I’d like to.

Because this is a good book. It is well written; short and easy to read and, most of all, it made me think. I know that some people will hate it. They will label it as trite, simplistic and light on content. But here is what I think. I think that if you read this with an open mind, it could focus your thinking on how to really raise your game.

It’s premise is simple and, if the book has a fault, it is that Godin takes it as axiomatic and fails to provide more than anecdotal evidence. The premise is that winners are people who quit. What differentiates them from the humdrum people who do ‘OK’ is that they know what to quit. This leaves them the time and energy to focus on the activities that will really deliver pre-eminence.

This leads us to the ‘dip’ of the title. This refers to the period in which improving becomes difficult. We have mastered the easy stuff that allows us to be OK. Now we are in the dip when further effort not only feels like it isn’t delivering improvement; it feels like we are moving backwards. Godin asserts that this is where to invest. If the outcome is really valuable, then quitting here – the easy thing to do – is absolutely wrong. Yet so many of us do it. But, if you push through the dip, you will reach a point where a little extra effort yields huge rewards.

However, if you accept Godin’s simple thesis, it provides the basis to re-evaluate the choices you make about where to put your energy.

Should we accept his model? That’s for you to decide. I find that it accords well with experience and provides a useful challenge to my thinking. That makes it a good model and one that I have found helpful for myself and for others. This is why I recommend this book.

Smart is Not Enough

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