The Dip

by Seth Godin

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 5 min read
The Dip
The Dip

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What are the big ideas?

  1. Quitting smartly means stopping things that don't help in the long run. It's important to know when to quit and when to keep going.
  2. Sticking with hard tasks, especially through tough times, helps you stand out and do really well.
  3. When things get tough, use that time to do something amazing instead of just getting by. This can lead to great success.
  4. Choosing to be excellent means not settling for just being okay. It's about making hard choices and not giving up during tough times.
  5. It's important to leave jobs or paths that aren't going anywhere to grow in your career and find better chances.

Summary

The Strategic Importance of Quitting and Persevering

  • “Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”
  • “Quit the wrong stuff. Stick with the right stuff. Have the guts to do one or the other.”
  • “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.”
  • “If you’re not able to get through the Dip in an exceptional way, you must quit. And quit right now.”
  • “Winners understand that taking that pain now prevents a lot more pain later.”
  • “The decision to quit or not is a simple evaluation: Is the pain of the Dip worth the benefit of the light at the end of the tunnel?”
  • “Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. If you realize you’re at a dead end compared with what you could be investing in, quitting is not only a reasonable choice, it’s a smart one.”
  • “Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.”
  • “Actually, quitting as a short-term strategy is a bad idea. Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea.”

The Value of Persistence and Overcoming Challenges

  • “Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.”
  • “Almost everything in life worth doing is controlled by the Dip.”
  • “At the beginning, when you first start something, it’s fun. Over the next few days and weeks, the rapid learning you experience keeps you going. Whatever your new thing is, it’s easy to stay engaged in it. And then the Dip happens. The Dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s actually a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path.”
  • “The Dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.”
  • “In a competitive world, adversity is your ally. The harder it gets, the better chance you have of insulating yourself from the competition. If that adversity also causes you to quit, though, it’s all for nothing.”
  • “It’s not enough to survive your way through this Dip. You get what you deserve when you embrace the Dip and treat it like the opportunity that it really is.”
  • “Knowing that you’re facing a Dip is the first step in getting through it.”
  • “It’s human nature to quit when it hurts. But it’s that reflex that creates scarcity.”
  • “If you can’t make it through the Dip, don’t start.”
  • “If you want to be a superstar, then you need to find a field with a steep Dip—a barrier between those who try and those who succeed. And you’ve got to get through that Dip to the other side.”
  • “If you can get through the Dip, if you can keep going when the system is expecting you to stop, you will achieve extraordinary results.”
  • “To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and, yes, choose it.”

Settling for Mediocrity vs. Striving for Excellence

  • “People settle for good enough instead of best in the world.”
  • “Just about everything you learned in school about life is wrong, but the wrongest thing might very well be this: Being well rounded is the secret to success.”
  • “The Cul-de-Sac is boring, the Cliff is exciting (for a while), but neither gets you through the Dip and both lead to failure.”
  • “The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”

Limited Experimentation and Choice Narrowing

  • “With limited time or opportunity to experiment, we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top.”

Emotional Aspect of Selling

  • “Selling is about a transference of emotion, not a presentation of facts. If it were just a presentation of facts, then a PDF flyer or a Web site would be sufficient to make the phone ring.”

Recognizing Dead-Ends in Career Paths

  • “If your job is a Cul-de-Sac, you have to quit or accept the fact that your career is over.”

Questions

  1. How do you determine when to quit something and when to persevere through challenges?
  2. What are the long-term benefits of quitting something that's not working out for you?
  3. How can you identify the right time and situation to quit versus sticking to a task?
  4. What role does persistence play in achieving extraordinary results in your life?
  5. How can recognizing and overcoming the Dip lead to exceptional achievements?
  6. In what ways does settling for mediocrity differ from striving for excellence, and what impact does this have on success?
  7. How does the emotional aspect of selling contrast with the mere presentation of facts?
  8. What steps should you take if you find your career path leading to a dead-end or a Cul-de-Sac?

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