January 20, 2017

Knowing When to Quit (And When to Stick)

Knowing When to Quit (And When to Stick)

We are often seduced by stories of innate talent and instant success and forget the effort required there.

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What’s it about?

Seth Godin writes a book on quitting, specifically strategic quitting. Every new project (or career or relationship) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point – really hard, really not fun. At this point you may be in a Dip, which will get better if you keep pushing, or a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better no matter how hard you try.

It benefits to know which one you are in.

Knowing When to Quit (And When to Stick):

  1. Benefits accrue to those who are able to push a bit longer than most. Benefits also accrue to those with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something else.
  2. The market place loves a winner. The number one in any marketplace often accrues 30% or more of sales.
  3. The mass market is dying. There is no longer one best song or coffee. Now there are a million micro-markets, but each micro-market still has a best.
  4. The dip is the long slog between starting and mastery. It can act as a screen or barrier to keep the unmotivated out. A typical resume of any CEO shows they’ve endured a twenty-five year Dip before landing the job. There are all sorts of dips.
  5. The Cul-de-Sac (French for “Dead End”) is a situation where you work and work and nothing gets better. A Cul-de-Sac keeps you from doing something else. Stick with the Dips that are likely to pan out, quit the Cul-de-sacs to focus your resources.
  6. If it’s worth doing then its probably has a Dip. Because few people work through the Dip there is scarcity, scarcity creates value.


The market wants to see you persist. It demands a signal from you that you’re serious, powerful, accepted, and safe. The bulk of a market, any market, is made up of those folks who are in the middle of the bell curve, the ones who want to buy something proven and valued.

You know it, but you may not be doing anything about it. When it comes right down to it, right down to the hard decisions, are you quitting any project that isn’t a Dip? Or is it just easier not to rock the boat, to hang in there, to avoid the short-term hassle or changing paths?


Superstars are in fields with steep Dips. There is a barrier between those who try and those who succeed. This isn’t for everyone, that’s why there are so few Superstars. To succeed in the Dip you need to quit all your Cul-de-Sacs. You must quit all the projects, investments and endeavors that don’t offer you the same opportunity.

Take Away Points and Context

  • We are often seduced by stories of innate talent and instant success. An actress being discovered at the local drugstore, an entrepreneur or novelist who makes it big. It seems easy and exciting and we forget the effort required before-hand to get them there.
  • Quitting in a Dip can be bad short term decision, if you want success you will need to work through the Dip. Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices available to you. If you realize you are at a dead-end, seeing no improvement at all, quitting is a smart, reasonable choice.
  • Quitting in a Dip can mean settling for less. Not everyone wants to be a CEO, success is how you define it. That success may come through quitting Cul-de-Sacs and working through Dips.


The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Seth Godin

A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller


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