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Given that there is an abundance of ideas, products, resources, technologies, experts etc. in today’s world, it is not surprising that only the best get noticed. There is a LARGE gap in the premium commanded between the best and others. Seth Godin makes an argument that in order to get noticed in this overcrowded world, nothing short of “best” works. What’s “best” is decided by the micro market you are intending to serve?

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You begin any activity, starting a company, learning a new game, learning music, understanding a mathematical concept, learn a new programming language, etc. there is that initial phase where results keep coming quick and fast as you put in effort. After a point though, there is an inevitable slump, the author calls it “The Dip”. Everybody has a choice in the dip: Either to keep slogging or call it quits. Seth Godin argues that successful people do two things : slog through the dip in the activity they care about OR quit the activity so that they don’t waste their time and resources in the dip that could turn out to be “The Cul-de-Sac” or “The Cliff”. 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.

Seems extremely obvious and why would anyone write a book about. it ?  However Seth gives a ton of examples that shows SOME people/companies get it and MANY don’t. The key lies in figuring out a couple of things :

  • Quit early when you think the reward at the end of the dip is not worth your time and effort.
  • Have the perception to discern between “The Dip” and “The Cul-de-Sac”/”The Cliff”. This means knowing yourself well.
  • Don’t defend “Cul-de-Sacs” and cook up stories that make you comfortable that you are not pursuing a dead-end. It will only make you mediocre in the long-term
  • Quitting is not the same as failing. Smart quitting is essential for doing remarkable stuff.
  • Coping is a lousy alternative to quitting

Seth suggests considering three questions while quitting :

  1. Am I panicking? Decisions taken in panic are always crappy. The best quitter always decide in advance when to quit
  2. Whom are you trying to influence? Is it a single individual that you have failed to influence or is it a market place that you have not been able to cut through? Failing in the former means failure in scaling a wall that keeps getting higher and higher. The latter is akin to a hill where success comes only after experimenting with different routes that take you to the top.
  3. What sort of measurable progress that you are making? Firstly this means that you need to have some kind of measurement of your work. Not necessarily based on the money you make/ promotions etc. It could be any metric that you believe is the right one to track your progress. If you do not see any kind of measurable progress, it is a sheer waste of your time to stick to a particular activity.

There is a wonderful quote in the book,

Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop and drop out. You don’t want to be out there saying, “well gee, my leg hurts, I am a little dehydrated, I’m sleepy. I’m tired, and it’s cold and windy”. And talk yourself into quitting. If you making a decision based on how you feel at that moment, you will probably make a wrong decision.

– Dick Collins(Ultra marathoner)

I guess it all boils down to “ Writing it down under what circumstances you will quit. And when. And then stick with it.”

Quit the wrong Stuff.
Stick with the right Stuff.
Have the guts to do one or the other.

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