The Dip — Seth Godin [Book 2/52]

Samia Haimoura
Jan 24 · 3 min read

Genre: Strategy/Business

Okay. The Dip. I picked this book because of a personal issue with quitting. I used to believe that it is shameful to quit, and used to fall into the mainstream mantra of pushing through even when it hurts, even when it gets too difficult, because that’s what sets apart the winners from the losers… Until I do throw the ball at times, and it makes me feel like a total failure, unable to live with myself and feeling painfully guilty for what seems like an indefinite time.

This book argues for the opposite. As a matter of fact, most winners quit, and often so. But they quit smartly. It’s when they quit the stuff they don’t really care about or the stuff they realize they can never be the best at, even though they put in all the effort and resources available to them. In my case, I was in the wrong environment, and my efforts were just a waste of time and energy I could deploy elsewhere.

Seth classifies virtually all difficult situations into either one of the following: The Dip, the Cliff and the Cul-de-Sac (dead-end in French).
The Dip — A temporary difficult situation, but once you break out of it after persevering, you become the best (of the very few) at the top of your field. This stage assumes that you chose your topic carefully and are passionate about it.
The Cliff — A promising start the ends with a disastrous end (when you just get excited about something but don’t really care this much).
The Cul-de-Sac — A long journey that eventually leads nowhere.

In short, you should quit the cliff and the cul-de-sac, avoid coping (which is a mechanism people use to avoid the short-term pain associated with quitting) but carry on when you are dipping. The trick is to recognize the short term pain and amplify the long term benefits. Most people get stuck with the present pain.
The whole point is to recognize in which situation you are, and to quit beforehand, to plan your quitting as opposed to quitting emotionally under frustration.

Some cons: This book is very repetitive, so there is a lot of common sense that repeats throughout. If I had to rewrite the book, I’ll probably keep it short and get the message out of the way in 5–10 pages.
I’m also not sure I completely agree with the argument that unless you become the best in your field, you should just plainly quit. Some people draw pleasure, entertainment or self esteem from doing certain things, and they don’t necessarily need to be the best in their field. Suppose I play chess, and want to get better at what I do by putting the hours and work into perfecting my game tactics, this doesn’t mean I have to beat Gary Gasparov at his game. This might just signal a genuine passion for the game itself. Just plain fun.
Additionally, I would also argue that advising people to not engage and explore new things is definitely not sound advice, depending on the stage of life of your audience. Especially at a younger age (and some-including myself- might even argue at a later one), people are in a state of exploration rather than exploitation. They don’t know what they like. They don’t know what they don’t know. Hence they can never know if they don’t even try. And if they don’t try, they’ll never know if they can even be the best or not.

Some pros: All common sense in my opinion. But I’d give Seth a thumbs up for being able to convey his points in simple terms and some entertaining illustrations.


This article is part of my 52 Books in 2020 Challenge. If you found this useful and would like to stay up-to-date with what I’m reading this year, don’t hesitate to follow my channel.

Samia Haimoura

Written by

Tech Entrepreneur @SEON, Data Science/AI Consultant, Duke University - Fuqua grad ‘19. Blogging @ gradientdissent.org.

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