Quitting is one the easiest things there is to do. When we face a challenge that appears insurmountable, we would sooner give up and try something else rather than push through the pain of that challenge. But the truth is, trying something else is only going to lead towards another challenge, and becoming a serial quitter is most definitely not the right path to head down.
Seth Godin, author of the bestselling books Purple Cow and the more recent Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, is also the author of 2007's The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). According to Godin, while quitting is often a poor snap decision made under stress, under the right circumstances it is a smart choice for turning around a dead-end situation.
"The Dip," as Godin defines it, is the valley between initial luck and long-term success. When learning any skill, the very beginning is fun and exciting as we quickly grasp new information and abilities. But at some point shortly after, the long, slow and difficult climb toward mastery makes us want to give up. This same analogy applies to numerous markets and situations, including sports, sales, job hunting and entrepreneurialism.
Godin is a proponent of quitting the short term tasks that aren't benefitting a long-term strategy of success. In his book he quotes Jack Welch of GE who, upon becoming CEO, quit any industry the company couldn't be #1 or #2 in because it was a waste of time and resources. Godin explains that quitting is not the same at failing, and suggests that if one wants to be the best in the world, some strategic quitting is in order.
"We fail when we give up too soon," writes Godin. "We fail when we get distracted by tasks that we don't have the guts to quit."
We all know that any venture worth undertaking is bound to be wrought with difficulties, so Godin urges us to embrace The Dip and push through it. The only thing that separates the winners and losers in life is that the winners chose to push through The Dip when the going got tough. He also provides ways to identify when The Dip you think you're in is actually just a cul-de-sac, or dead-end. The only thing that's easier than quitting when times are hard is sticking with the dead-end easy tasks. While dips are something to be overcome, cul-de-sacs and cliffs are to be avoided.
Godin's The Dip is an excellent read for any entrepreneur-to-be looking to plan ahead for the challenges that lay ahead. Godin points out that just as venture capitalists make sure a startup has a solid plan before taking the risk of investment, that entrepreneurs need to know at what point they will quit.
It's much easier to decide that now before the pain and struggle of The Dip sets in.