It's been a long time, about seven weeks, since I posted to this blog. I was going to say it's hard to come back, but actually, it's surprisingly easy. If I followed my usual style, I would never come back to it again. At the very least I would spend a decent amount of time agonizing over whether I should get back to a blog I have neglected so shamefully. Past thought habits have been telling me that this phase in my train of serial interests is over, so forget about it and move on to the next one. I don't feel like being limited by that, and I'm not in the mood to agonize, so I am just plunging in again.
Several of the books I've been reading lately are by Seth Godin, blogger and marketing genius. His books are short, easy to read (but not always easy to understand or implement), and thought-provoking. Two of the books I just finished are Free Prize Inside and the dip. The Dip is subtitled A Little Book that Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick). How appropriate.
Godin says a lot of people quit when they should be persistent, and stick with things that aren't working for them and are leading them nowhere. I don't have much of a problem with the second, but I could write a book on the first. I quit a lot. I even wrote a post about it, called "Resistance is Futile". Shortly after that post, I quit the blog for almost two months.
Here are a couple of quotations from Godin's The Dip:
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...
This is how he explains the Dip:
At the beginning, when you first start something, it's fun. You could be taking up golf or acupuncture or piloting a plane or doing chemistry---doesn't matter; it's interesting, and you get plenty of good feedback from the people around you.
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...
The Dip is the long stretch between beginner's luck and real accomplishment...
The Dip is the set of artificial screens set up to keep people like you out...
The point of Godin's book is that how you handle the Dip determines your success in life. What a great lesson for me. I know how to quit dead-end jobs or activities, but the problem is that I often don't push through the tough parts when I'm doing something worthwhile.
"Successful people don't just ride out the Dip... No, they lean into the Dip. They push harder, changing the rules as they go... Dips don't last quite as long when you whittle at them."
When have you run into a Dip in your life? How did you handle it? Do you know when to quit and when to persist?