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The Arcis Man

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin

16 December 2019


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The Dip is another gem from Seth Godin.  He explains why we should aim to be the best in our world at what we do and that any worthwhile endeavour will very likely include what he calls the Dip – the period after you start but before the end is in sight.  It’s the time when your commitment is tested and only those who can use the Dip as motivation to chase their goal harder than everyone else can claim the number 1 status.

Feeling like giving up

Godin explains 3 Curves that illustrate the emotional journey for anyone after embarking on a project:

  1. The Dip is the most typical curve we face and is present in almost any worthy endeavor. It describes the initial energy we have for the project that tapers off rapidly and only recovers when the end is in sight.

  2. The Cul-de-sac describes the emotional curve we experience in a dead end job. It’s where we have accepted average performance and justified that we don’t need to get to the top of our field.

  3. The cliff is a dangerous scenario that only gets better with time until a day of reckoning that is inevitable.  It’s at this point that we go off the cliff.

The Dip is where success happens because it’s the natural barrier we face to weed out the competition and leave the top performers to reap the rewards.

Being the best in the world

What is the world anyway.  Godin argues that you should define your world for the purposes of your project.  If you’re a lawyer, then your world is the population of lawyers with your speciality in your city.  It’s this world that you should aim to be dominate in whatever you do.

Why should you want to be the best in your world.  Godin correctly points out that the rewards for the best in your world are huge compared to everyone else.  We all have the ability to be the best in our world if you could just quit the things that are not working for us and concentrate all of our strengths on the one thing that we can dominate.  We lean into the Dip on that thing that we can dominate and use it to become best in class.

Intelligent quitting

Quitting in the Dip is usually a short term decision and a bad one because it’s made when we’re feeling tired with no sight of the end. If we’re in a Dip on something that we can be best in our world at, then we should stick with it and use the Dip to mould us into the leader.

If we’re in a cul-de-sac because we don’t have the resources to be great in any endeavour, then we should quit so that we can concentrate on the Dip that will reward us with number 1 status.

3 questions to ask yourself is you’re considering quitting:

  1. Am I panicking?

Quitting when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive.

  1. Who am I trying to influence?

People and organizations are very different to markets, especially when we’re trying to influence them.  It may make sense to quit trying to influence an individual or organization, but markets are large and complex.  Influencing a market is a slow hill climb that gets easier as you get higher.

  1. What sort of measurable progress am I making?

Are you moving forward, standing still or falling behind?

Deciding in advance when to quit is a great strategy because we can plan without the feeling of fatigue or the pain of mini failures in the project.  If you make a decision based on how you feel at that moment, it will likely be a bad decision.


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