published on Monday, May 28, 2007 in The Miami Herald
Know a dip from a dead end
Seth Godin's latest book offers encouragement to those who stay the course but also shows when quitting can be the surest way to success.
BY RICHARD PACHTER
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). Seth Godin. Portfolio. 88 pages.
Funny, the things that stick in your head. Years ago, I was chatting to a colleague who said that he planned to make a lot more money in the next few years. Cluelessly, I blurted, ``But we only get 7 percent raises!''
He gave me a pitying smile and said, ``Not if I take a job with another company!''
Sure enough, a few months later he had a new job at another company. In fact, his upwardly mobile, zig-zagging trajectory continued for several years until he wound up as the president of Motown Records . . . but that's another story.
Author and all-around wise man Seth Godin agrees. Sometimes, quitting is the best possible career move. The problem is knowing when to hang in there and when to pack that metaphoric salami sandwich and jump on the next bus.
This principle doesn't just apply to employees. Godin advocates the same tactic for entrepreneurs, companies, products and just about any other stay-or-go circumstance.
He writes about recognizing a dip, the low point of any project, compared to a cul-de-sac, aka a dead end from which things will never substantively improve, no matter what. The trick is in being able to tell the difference, but first Godin has to deal with a giant, hoary misconception. He quickly and deftly dismisses the adage about never quitting and persevering no matter what. After all, should Bill Gates have stayed at Harvard? Would he have done better if he had just stuck it out no matter what? Jack Welch may have done a few questionable things, but his strategy of quitting (selling) companies or divisions owned by GE that weren't -- or wouldn't -- be the first or second most successful firm in their product category was pretty smart. And there are plenty of other successful executives, artists, politicians and others who realized that the fastest and smartest path to success went through the exit door.
The one possible weakness of this otherwise terrific little volume is that it is aimed solely at people who are creative, intelligent and want to succeed. Those who are mediocre, unmotivated or just coasting through life will probably not get much from Godin. He is not an elitist, but his message is squarely aimed at those who want to succeed or at least achieve excellence.
Too bad, because we've all met people who hang on to their positions due to inertia, lack of health insurance or because their jobs are unchallenging, but they have plenty of time for side projects, goofing off and such. Or, because they are afraid.
THE SAD REALITY
Fear may be the biggest cause of mediocrity. It's often easier to go with the flow and hide in the shadows. For the risk-averse, ''no guts, no glory'' holds little appeal. In fact, they are probably terrified of glory and cherish their lives of quiet desperation. For them, Godin may have kind thoughts, but he offers little else except maybe inspiration and a glimpse of what could be.
For those who do seek constant improvement -- artists, writers, executives, parents, manufacturers, cooks and everyone who always strives to do better -- Godin's brilliant little book may help them figure out how to get there from here.
For more information, check out www.squidoo.com/theDipBook/
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