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WHEN TO BE PERSISTENT AND WHEN TO QUIT

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As bestselling author Seth Godin puts it: “The old saying is wrong – winners do quit, and quitters do win.”

This idea probably sounds dubious to most of us who have been drilled with mantras such as “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” or perhaps the one made famous by Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never, never, NEVER give up!”But what if you’ve tried again and again and keep failing? Is it worth your time and effort to keep pressing on?
Godin argues in his book, The Dip, that sometimes, it’s not. The key word is “sometimes”. And the key idea is knowing the difference between the “sometimes” – the times you should stick to your guns, and the times you should let go and move on.
Godin describes three possible pathways we may find ourselves in in our attempts to make progress: The Cliff, the Cul-de-Sac, and finally, the Dip. The first two ultimately lead to failure. The last may seem like failure at first, but will pave the way for success.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cul-de-sac
When we’re in a cul-de-sac, we might find little resistance, but our goals really lead us nowhere. The cul-de-sac is a situation that doesn’t change much, no matter what you do, such as a dead-end job.

 

The Cliff
The cliff may take you upwards – for a while – before things come plummeting down.  On a cliff, there is the temptation to ride the wave of success for as long as possible before it all falls apart. This is how corporations like Enron get ridden into bankruptcy or how people find themselves jobless after staying put in a comfortable job but giving little thought to career advancement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dip
The times when we should stay the course even when it’s hard – that’s the Dip.
In a Dip you might find yourself, after some success, continuing to put in a lot of effort for very little results. This will be discouraging and seem very much like a cul-de-sac or a cliff – but what’s really happening is that you’re laying groundwork and setting the stage for massive leaps forward and upwards. The problem is that most people give up at the Dip, and never experience the massive breakthroughs that come after slogging through the Dip.

To succeed then, you need to:
• Know the difference between cul-de-sacs, cliffs, and dips.• Stop wasting time on the cul-de-sacs and cliffs and don’t be afraid to quit them.• Pick the right Dip for the right reasons – and then stick to it and stay focused until youget past it.
In Godin’s words: “Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it*.”
How can you apply this to your life? Take a goal like losing weight, for example. Eating less without considering other factors like nutrition and exercise might be a cul-de-sac when no weight loss is seen. Crash dieting, like a cliff, might get you fast results, but the lost weight will quickly pile back on and your health may be affected by it. A steady, determined, and balanced eating and exercise plan might be much less attractive initially – but in the long run, the effort will pay off.
*Another best-selling author, Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, Blink, What the Dog Saw) wrote something about this too, called the 10,000 hour rule.

Image: AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Donnie Ray

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