Seth Godin’s “The Dip”

I read Seth Godin’s “The Dip: The Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit and When to Stick” over the weekend. (In about an hour actually—I was slow.)

It has some interesting approaches to life and work. Let me paraphrase:


If you (or your company) want to be “the best in the world” at something….

(Where “best in the world” is relatively subjective; that is, you define what “the world” is and your own criteria for “best”.)

you need to work through the beginning phase of development and be able to hang on and evolve through the long development phase, which he calls “the dip”…

(Where the “something you” pick should have a substantial “dip” (so you can outlast and outsmart your competitors) and you pick a “something” where you have an advantage/talent/leadership.)

…and you need to drop any distracting investments of time and money for which you do not have adequate advantage to make it through “the dip”—this is called “intelligent quitting”…

(in some ways this idea of quitting with integrity is one of the most important ideas in the book; that we spend a lot of energy working on things we’re just working on to be working on; where we do not really have the potential to really succeed—-in my parlance, these things are called “hobbies.”)


…the long development phase, which can get progressively more difficult, might be a “dip” with success at the end of the tunnel, or a “cul-de-sac”—a place where you can work forever and never get the rainbow. And you have to learn to discern the difference…

(Most people get stuck in a rut and never figure out that they aren’t really going anywhere; successful people figure out earlier that they need to quit. The best quote in the book is: “Quit fast, and quit often.” The key is to not spend your time doing things that aren’t getting you where you want to go.)

There are big advantages that accrue to those who are “best in the world”.


For me, this is fine as far as it goes. It is about congruency of action and alignment with purpose. This all good. But for me, while this applies to some of us in some of our endeavors, it’s emphasis on “best in the world” as a measure of success is a little damaging. Some of our endeavors are not really meant to measured against others; keeping score is not the point of everything.

So as you apply these ideas to measuring your business or your budding high-tech career—it can be useful. But as a way to evaluate a teacher (she needs to be the best possible mentor to her students, and it’s not reasonable to measure “best in the world” even if you could), I think that particular concept is not useful. Also, in comparison to Updrafting, there is little discussion of really figuring out what your are “meant” to be doing, your true talents and purpose, which we think is key to finding success.

But I do love the concept of quitting early and often—we tend to spend a lot of our time working on things that are not really to the point. Or to any point. That is a key element of Updrafting, being consistently congruent in what you do and have all you do be finely aligned with your direction and purpose.

Leave a Reply