The Dip [LINK] – Seth Godin
Advice is relative. Ironically, that’s the best piece of advice I’ve been given.
Quitters never win and winners never quit. This may be true for your favorite sports comeback story, but real winners quit all the time; that’s how they win. You find out what you’re good at, where you should invest your time, and where you should never go again. I love reading, but it wasn’t always that way. I once took a reading comprehension test. It said I read at the equivalent of a fifth grader. Having never read much in high school or college, I decided from 2015 onward I would read 50+ books a year. You don’t do that by staying in the fifth grade. You go through The Dip.
It’s a metaphorical trough that trips people up. When the times are tough, the tough get going. Now that’s a proverb relevant to The Dip. Quit the bad, or stick with the good, and develop the willingness to do either. As Godin notes, “The problem is that only a tiny portion of the audience is looking for the brand-new thing. Most people are waiting for the tested, the authenticated, and the proven.” They are stuck in The Dip.
Being well rounded is not the key to success. The marketplace rewards those at the top. #1 often benefits 10x that of #10, and 100x that of #100. This is explained by Zipf’s law: Given a large sample of [words] used, the frequency of any [word] is inversely proportional to its rank in the frequency table. Winner’s win big because society rewards them most. The difference between #1 and #3 is not 2.
We’re often myopic about others accomplishments. They come from either giving up or nevergiving up. We think the new artist is a one hit wonder even though it’s their third album. We forget that Michael Burry, famous for shorting the housing industry, first quit his medical practice to later make millions investing. Strategic quitting is the key to many large organizations. Take Amazon for example, where Jeff Bezos preaches about his failures. He fails early and often, focusing on what Amazon can optimize and control. For most, it’s easier to be mediocre than confront the reality that you’re not that good at something, or that what you’ve done is a failure.
The point of The Dip is not that you should quit, it’s that The Dip is a long, hard, frustrating and difficult place to be, so one must have the stamina, passion and willpower to persevere. “The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers.”
This book reminded me of another great pocket book on mediocracy/expertise, It’s Now How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, by Paul Arden.