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Quit or Not Quit; Scarcity Creates Value

Seth Godin, the author of The Dip, states that in order to be the best in the world, we need to know when to quit and when not to quit. How do we know when to quit and when not to quit?

With every great success, there is a dip. The dip is the incredible challenge that gives you the opportunity to pull ahead. In a competitive world, the dip 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.

Scarcity creates value

If it is worth doing, there’s probably a dip. The Dip creates scarcity; scarcity creates value. The difference between a mediocre player and a regional champion isn’t inborn talent. It’s the ability to push through the moments where it’s just easier to quit.

If you look at the resume of a typical CEO, you’ll see that he endured a twenty-five year Dip before landing the job. For a quarter of a century, he needed to suck it up, keep his head down, and do what he was told. He needed to hit his numbers, work longer than everyone else, and kiss up to his boss of the moment. Day in and day out, year after year.

It’s easy to be a CEO. What’s hard is getting there. There’s a huge Dip along the way. If it was easy, there’d be too many people vying for the job and the CEOs couldn’t get paid as much, could they? Scarcity as we’ve seen, is the secret to value. If there wasn’t a dip, there’d be no scarcity.

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.

If you took organic chemistry in college, you’ve experienced the Dip. Academia doesn’t want too many unmotivated people to attempt medical school, so they set up a screen. Organic chemistry is the killer class, the screen that separates the doctors from the psychologists. if you can’t handle organic chemistry, well then, you can’t go to med school.

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.

When To Quit

The dead end job is a time to quit. A dead end job is when 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.

When you have a dead end job, you need to get off it, fast. That’s because a dead end is keeping you from doing something else. The opportunity cost of investing your life in something that’s not going to get better is just too high.

Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, and quit the dead end job to focus your resources.  The biggest obstacle to success in life, as far as I can tell, is our inability to quit these dead end jobs soon enough.

Sure, we all know that providing a great product or services is the right thing to do, and that you shouldn’t quit in the face of adversity. You don’t and that’s the bad news.

I mean, you know it, but my guess is that you’re not doing anything about it. When it comes right down to it, right down to the hard decisions, are you quitting any project that isn’t a Dip? Or is it just easier to hang in there and avoid the short-term hassle of changing paths?

Are you over investing time and money so that you have a much greater chance of dominating a market? And if you don’t have enough time and money, do you have the guts to pick a different, smaller market to conquer?

Once you’re doing those things, then you get it.

The Dip is Where Success Happens

The people who set out to make it through the Dip are the people who invest the time and the energy to power through the Dip. These 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.

It’s the incredibly difficult challenges (the Dips) that give you the opportunity to pull ahead. If we can’t be #1 or #2 in an industry, we must get out. Why sell a billion-dollar division that’s making a profit quite happily while ranking #r in market share? Easy. Because it distracts management attention. It sucks resources and capital and focus and energy. And most of all it teaches people in the organization that it’s okay not to be the best in the world.

We need to quit the dead ends. By doing so, we free resources to get our other businesses through the Dip to become the best in the world.

If I could offer just one piece of inspiration, it’s this: The Dip is the reason you’re here. Whether you’re lifting weights or negotiating a sale or applying for a job or lunging for a tennis ball, you’ve made a huge investment. You’ve invested time and money and effort to get to this moment. You’ve acquired the equipment and the education….all so you can confront this Dip, right now. The Dip is the reason you’re here.

It’s ┬ánot enough to survive your way through this Dip. You get what you deserve when you embrace the Dip and treat it like the opportunity that it really is.

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