A good friend of mine got fired from his job this week. It’s been a tough week for him and lots around him.

It pisses me off. Not that he got fired. It pisses me off that he didn’t quit a long time ago. Like I suggested. If he’d done that, then he wouldn’t have wasted the last 2 years. His reputation wouldn’t be at risk. And he wouldn’t be grieving getting fired now.

So it’s kind of ironic that I came across Seth Godin’s book ‘The Dip’ on iTunes yesterday.

Although it’s only moderately rated by iTunes and Amazon reviewers, there’s no way this book won’t make you think.

There are a few key concepts:

  • set out to be the best, whatever that is (best friend, leader, search engine, blog – Godin talks about being the ‘best in the world’ – a concept I also believe in although it risks seeming to grandiose for many)
  • recognize that there will be obstacles to getting there
  • figure out the difference between obstacles and brick walls – what Godin calls the difference between dips and cul de sacs
  • the rewards for ‘leaning into’ the dips and making it through them are generally large because the dips thin the herd, creating scarcity
  • quit strategically when it’s clear no matter what you do, you’re not going to make it – you’re facing a cul de sac, not a dip
  • quit fast before you waste resources like time, dollars and reputation which would be better deployed being the best somewhere else or in some other, better way
  • plan before hand what the conditions must be for quitting – quitting in a dip, just because you’re winded, tired and it’s raining (and therefore susceptible to quitting) is dumb if the finish line of the Boston Marathon is only 5 miles away

Godin works hard at blowing away the notion of ‘never quit’. As he asks ‘never quit bed-wetting?’. Really? If you haven’t done that yet, it’s time.

My friend needed to quit (his job) 2 years ago. There is no way what he was trying to accomplish was going to happen. It wasn’t just the obstacles he was facing, it was how he was facing them. Another of Godin’s points – maybe the goal’s not the problem, maybe it’s the strategy. Maybe that’s what needs to be quit.

I couldn’t agree more with what Godin’s articulated.

Over the years it’s not that I’ve seen too much quitting, it’s that I haven’t seen enough of it. Too many mediocre companies going nowhere. Too many Boards hanging onto lousy leaders. Too many CEO’s hanging onto failed strategies. Too many employees hanging onto lousy jobs.

Why?

Laziness – quitting isn’t easy.

Pride – “I’m not quitter”.

And bad business – “what is it we’re trying to accomplish again?”

Anyone looking for silver bullets will find ‘Dip’ a little frustrating. Is it a dip or cul de sac? Godin, trys to make it as black and white as possible but ultimately he can’t answer that for all his listener/readers. But knowing those are the options is a good start.

It’s helped me. There are a few cul de sacs I’m quitting as of today.