Klaus Breyer Tech Leadership, Product Delivery & Startup Strategy.

The Dip, Seth Godin, 2007

Imagine you’re running a marathon. The beginning is exhilarating, the crowd’s energy is infectious, and your adrenaline is pumping. But soon, you hit “the wall,” a point where every fiber of your being screams for you to stop. This is your Dip — a test of perseverance and commitment.

Why We Face The Dip

“The Dip,” as Seth Godin famously articulated in his book of the same name, is the point in any challenging endeavor where things get tough, progress slows, and quitting seems the most appealing. Godin proposes that the Dip isn’t just a barrier; it’s a critical test. Only those who can lean into the Dip, persevere through it, and come out the other side have the chance to be the best in their field. In a world that values the best exceedingly more than the second best, understanding and navigating your Dip is crucial.

Embracing Strategic Quitting

However, Godin’s insight doesn’t merely advocate for blind perseverance. He introduces the concept of “strategic quitting.” This form of quitting isn’t about giving up when the going gets tough but about recognizing when you’re facing a dead-end. If what you’re doing can’t lead you to being the best, or if it’s not aligned with your ultimate goals, then quitting isn’t just advisable; it’s necessary.

The Differentiation

The Dip is characterized not just by difficulty but by being a barrier that many won’t cross, thus reducing competition on the other side. Strategic quitting, on the other hand, involves giving up when the path no longer serves your end goals — a decision that should be made with foresight and deliberation.

Applying The Dip Strategically

In my own career, from founding startups to leading as CTO, embracing the Dip has been about more than perseverance. It’s about making calculated decisions on where to focus energy. For every successful venture, there were numerous potential projects and distractions that I had to say no to. Recognizing which opportunities would likely lead to a dead-end and which had the potential to break through was key.

Conclusion: The Power of Perseverance and Foresight

Returning to our marathon analogy, just as a runner might push through the wall knowing the satisfaction and potential victory that lies beyond, so too must entrepreneurs, leaders, and individuals push through their professional Dips. Yet, they must also be wise to recognize when a particular race is not theirs to finish. It’s this combination of perseverance in the right areas and strategic quitting in others that leads to true success.

“The Dip” teaches us that the biggest rewards come to those who can both endure and judiciously withdraw. As we face our professional and personal challenges, let’s carry forward this dual strategy of commitment and discernment.