Go to the profile of  Dayo F Osibamowo
Dayo F Osibamowo
11 min read

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Seth Godin (2007)

Visit book's Bookshop Page for details and support local, independent book stores.

Being the Best in the World Is Seriously Underrated

Location 41: Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.

Location 45: Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most.

Location 46: Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new.

Location 75: Winners win big because the marketplace loves a winner.

Location 99: Anyone who is going to hire you, buy from you, recommend you, vote for you, or do what you want them to do is going to wonder if you're the best choice. Best as in: best for them, right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And in the world as in: their world, the world they have access to.

Location 107: Best is subjective. I (the consumer) get to decide, not you. World is selfish. It's my definition, not yours. It's the world I define, based on my convenience or my preferences. Be the best in my world and you have me, at a premium, right now.

Location 134: 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.

Location 153: Strategic quitting is the secret of successful organizations. Reactive quitting and serial quitting are the bane of those that strive (and fail) to get what they want. And most people do just that. They quit when it's painful and stick when they can't be bothered to quit.

Location 163: 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.

Successful people don't just ride out the Dip. They don't just buckle down and survive it. No, they lean into the Dip. They push harder, changing the rules as they go. Just because you know you're in the Dip doesn't mean you have to live happily with it. Dips don't last quite as long when you whittle at them.

Location 184: The Cul-de-Sac (French for "dead end") is so simple it doesn't even need a chart. It's a situation where you work and you work and you work and nothing much changes. It doesn't get a lot better, it doesn't get a lot worse. It just is.

Location 187: There's not a lot to say about the Cul-de-Sac except to realize that it exists and to embrace the fact that when you find one, you need to get off it, fast.

Location 189: That's it. Two big curves (a bonus, the Cliff, follows). Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the Culde-Sacs to focus your resources. That's it.

Location 196: Cliff - it's a situation where you can't quit until you fall off, and the whole thing falls apart. It's no wonder that people have trouble stopping.

The Dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.

Location 216: Dip: the people who invest the time and the energy and the effort to power through the Dip; those are the ones who become the best in the world. They are breaking the system because, instead of moving on to the next thing, instead of doing slightly above average and settling for what they've got, they embrace the challenge. For whatever reason, they refuse to abandon the quest and they push through the Dip all the way to the next level.

Location 222: The brave thing to do is to tough it out and end up on the other side - getting all the benefits that come from scarcity. The mature thing is not even to bother starting to snowboard because you're probably not going to make it through the Dip. And the stupid thing to do is to start, give it your best shot, waste a lot of time and money, and quit right in the middle of the Dip.

Location 235: 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.

Location 247: The fact that it's difficult and unpredictable works to your advantage. Because if it were any other way, there'd be no profit in it. The Dip is the reason you're here.

Location 266: Before you enter a new market, consider what would happen if you managed to get through the Dip and win in the market you're already in.

It's easier to be mediocre than it is to confront reality and quit.

Location 285: Quitting when you hit the Dip is a bad idea.

Location 287: If you can't make it through the Dip, don't start. If you can embrace that simple rule, you'll be a lot choosier about which journeys you start.

Location 293: 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. This isn't for everyone.

Location 298: You must quit the projects and investments and endeavors that don't offer you the same opportunity. It's difficult, but it's vitally important.

Seven Reasons You Might Fail to Become the Best in the World

  1. You run out of time (and quit).
  2. You run out of money (and quit).
  3. You get scared (and quit).
  4. You're not serious about it (and quit).
  5. You lose interest or enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit).
  6. You focus on the short term instead of the long (and quit when the short term gets too hard).
  7. You pick the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world (because you don't have the talent).

Location 328: Whatever you do for a living, or for fun, it's probably somehow based on a system that's based on quitting. Quitting creates scarcity; scarcity creates value.

Location 365: There's nothing wrong with optimism. The pain (and the waste) comes when the optimists have to make hard choices when they get stuck in the Dip.

Location 368: The only reason the shuttle still exists is that no one has the guts to cancel it. There's no reason to keep investing in something that is not going to get better. In fact, if we canceled the shuttle, we'd create an urgent need for a replacement. The lack of a way to get to space would force us to invent a new, better, cheaper alternative.

Location 386: 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. People who make it through the Dip are scarce indeed, so they generate more value.

Location 395: I'd rather have you focus on quitting (or not quitting) as a go-up opportunity.

Location 397: If you're going to quit, quit before you start. Reject the system. Don't play the game if you realize you can't be the best in the world.

Location 399: Quitting at the right time is difficult. Most of us don't have the guts to quit. Worse, when faced with the Dip, sometimes we don't quit. Instead, we get mediocre.

Location 405: 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.

Location 420: While starting up is thrilling, it's not until you get through the Dip that your efforts pay off.

Location 430: Selling is about a transference of emotion, not a presentation of facts.

Location 432: Prospects (that's you if you've ever been sold something) are experts at sensing what's on the salesperson's mind. People have honed their salesperson radar - we're really good at detecting sincerity (or the lack of it). If a salesperson's attitude is "Hey, if this person doesn't buy, there's someone right down the street I can call on," what's projected is "Hey, I'm not that serious about you having this product." On the other hand, if a salesperson is there for the long run, committed to making a sale because it benefits the other person, that signal is sent loud and clear.

Location 436: Please understand this: If you're not able to get through the Dip in an exceptional way, you must quit. And quit right now. Because if your order book is 80 percent filled with prospects where you just sort of show up, you're not only wasting your time, you're also stealing your energy from the 20 percent of the calls where you have a chance to create a breakthrough.

Location 457: The problem is that only a tiny portion of the audience is looking for the brand-new thing. Most people are waiting for the tested, the authenticated, and the proven.

Location 464: But no, you mustn't quit a market or a strategy or a niche. The businesses we think of as overnight successes weren't. We just didn't notice them until they were well baked.

Location 467: The market wants to see you persist. It demands a signal from you that you're serious, powerful, accepted, and safe.

Location 473: No, the opposite of quitting is rededication. The opposite of quitting is an invigorated new strategy designed to break the problem apart.

Location 478: When the pain gets so bad that you're ready to quit, you've set yourself up as someone with nothing to lose. And someone with nothing to lose has quite a bit of power. You can go for broke. Challenge authority. Attempt unattempted alternatives. Lean into a problem; lean so far that you might just lean right through it.

Location 494: Short-term pain has more impact on most people than long-term benefits do, which is why it's so important for you to amplify the long-term benefits of not quitting. You need to remind yourself of life at the other end of the Dip because it's easier to overcome the pain of yet another unsuccessful cold call if the reality of a successful sales career is more concrete.

If You're Not Going to Get to #1, You Might as Well Quit Now.

Location 541: Our parents and grandparents believed you should stay at a job for five years, ten years, or even your whole life. But in a world where companies come and go - where they grow from nothing to the Fortune 500 and then disappear, all in a few years - that's just not possible.

Location 546: If your job is a Cul-de-Sac, you have to quit or accept the fact that your career is over.

Location 547: Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you.

Location 549: Failing happens when you give up, when there are no other options, or when you quit so often that you've used up all your time and resources.

Location 551: Quitting smart, though, is a great way to avoid failing.

Location 552: The problem with coping is that it never leads to exceptional performance.

Location 555: Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.

Location 558: Actually, quitting as a short-term strategy is a bad idea. Quitting for the long term is an excellent idea. I think the advice-giver meant to say, "Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can't deal with the stress of the moment."

Location 567: If pride is the only thing keeping you from quitting, if there's no Dip to get through, you're likely wasting an enormous amount of time and money defending something that will heal pretty quickly.

Location 577: Realizing that quitting is worth your focus and consideration is the first step to becoming the best in the world. The next step is to ask three questions.


Location 580: Quitting when you're panicked is dangerous and expensive. The best quitters, as we've seen, are the ones who decide in advance when they're going to quit. You can always quit later - so wait until you're done panicking to decide.


Location 600: Influencing a market, on the other hand, is more of a hill than a wall. You can make progress, one step at a time, and as you get higher, it actually gets easier. People in the market talk to each other. They are influenced by each other. So every step of progress you make actually gets amplified.


Location 606: That choice to stick with it in the absence of forward progress - is a waste. It's a waste because of the opportunity cost - you could be doing something far better, and far more pleasurable, with your time.

Location 634: If quitting is going to be a strategic decision that enables you to make smart choices in the marketplace, then you should outline your quitting strategy before the discomfort sets in.

Location 654: Figure out how much pressure you've got available, then pick your tire. Not too big, not too small.

Location 658: The lesson is simple: If you've got as much as you've got, use it. Use it to become the best in the world, to change the game, to set the agenda for everyone else.

Location 660: In order to get through that Dip, you'll need to quit everything else. If it's not going to put a dent in the world, quit. Right now. Quit and use that void to find the energy to assault the Dip that matters. Go ahead, make something happen. We're waiting!

Location 662: Questions Is this a Dip, a Cliff, or a Cul-de-Sac? If it's a Cul-de-Sac, how can I change it into a Dip? Is my persistence going to pay off in the long run? Am I engaged with just one person (or organization), or do my actions in this situation spill over into the entire marketplace? When should I quit? I need to decide now, not when I'm in the middle of it, and not when part of me is begging to quit. If I quit this task, will it increase my ability to get through the Dip on something more important? If I'm going to quit anyway, is there something dramatic I can do instead that might change the game? Should I really be calling on IBM? Should I really be trying to get on Oprah? What chance does this project have to be the best in the world? Who decides what best is? Can we make the world smaller? Does it make sense to submit a resume to every single ad on Craigslist, just to see what happens? If I like my job, is it time to quit? Is doing nothing better than planning on quitting and then doing something great? Are you avoiding the remarkable as a way of quitting without quitting?

Location 685: If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.

The Best in the World?

Location 688: The best in the world? Sripraphai, Hard Manufacturing, Toyota Prius, JetBlue, Gulfstream, Nordost, Kate's Paperie, Peet's, Silpat, Robin Dellabough, Starbucks, iPod, Jackson Pollock, Allison Sweet, Paychex, Sotheby's,Porsche, Barry Diller, Megan Casey, Helene Godin, Paul Graham, Google, White Stripes, Red Maxwell, Terry Gross, Tony Hawk, Heinz Ketchup, Shaun White, Catherine E. Oliver, iStockphoto. com, Leica, Jonathan Sackner Bernstein, Lark, Chubb, SmartGlove, Beckham, Madonna, Elvis, Boing Boing, the Three Stooges, Ben Zander, Stephen King, Amazon.com, Hood River Gorge, Sundance, CBGB, Paris (the city, not the person), Denny's, Lisa DiMona, Johnny Cash, Mia Hamm, Michael Jordan, Rolex, the Empire State Building, Hugh Macleod, CAA, Will Weisser, Bob Dylan, Dilbert, Doonesbury, De Cecco pasta, FedEx, Momofuku, Adrian Zackheim, The New Yorker, Burgerville, Coach, the Eiffel Tower, Gil Hildebrand, Jr., Tesla Motors, Lynn Gordon, Corey Brown, Swan, WD 40, Mo & Alex, Scharffen Berger, Anne Shepherd, Chestnut Canoe, Ideo, Tom Demott, Poilane, Casablanca, Amoeba Records, Charlotte Okie, the Tattered Cover, Jennifer Young, Joseph Perez, Miles Davis, Crooked Brook, and Marilyn Wishnie.


Location 700: All our successes are the same. All our failures, too. We succeed when we do something remarkable. We fail when we give up too soon. We succeed when we are the best in the world at what we do. We fail when we get distracted by tasks we don't have the guts to quit.