In Seth Godin’s book The Dip, he explains why pushing through discomfort and multiple failures leads to success and also knowing when to quit. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Nothing worth doing is easy,” but why is it not easy? Is it because, if it was, then anyone could do it? There has to be more to success. It is because success is a system made to weed out people who lack the will to persevere. A majority of people will quit before achieving success because, in that moment, the pain is too much to bear.
Les Brown tells a story during his famous inspirational speech “You Gotta Be Hungry” about selling televisions. He’s selling televisions with his friend and they both walk up to a different door and knock. They give a short pitch before having the door slammed in their face. Brown turns around and looks to the other house to see his friend walking back to the car and he asks, “Where are you going?” To which his friend replies, “I can’t do this.” His friend gave up because the rejection in that moment hurt more than the reward of a sale. Brown, on the other hand, continued on and, the more he did it, the less personally he took the rejections and he began to play a game where he tried to find a yes. He knew that someone out there needed a new television, he just needed to knock on the right door. “The Dip” is all of the “no’s” we must endure to find the “yes.”
Knowing When It’s Time to Quit
The world is full of hard workers. These hard workers have a routine that Godin calls the “cul-de-sac” which, unlike “the dip,” is when we get caught in a perpetual cycle. The only way out is to break the cycle and embrace a new goal. A successful entrepreneur doesn’t sell the same product for ten years. They improve the product and continue to update it even when it is selling well. Entrepreneurs create extension products and, while some fail, they constantly improve and evolve. Many entrepreneurs start out with success and fail because they believe, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That does not work in the fast-paced business world which is constantly changing because of technological advancements and other innovations.
If you are unhappy or find yourself in a routine that you are not satisfied with, then quit. Live by the Venture Capital anthem, “If you are going to fail, fail fast. It’s cheaper.” This means that, if you are not good at what you do or do not enjoy what you’re doing, quit before you are too invested. The truth for most of us is that if we are not going to be the best we can be, it is probably not worth doing. Because if you are not working hard to accomplish your goals, then you are not trying to be successful. The will to be successful, the drive, the ambition, and the ability to overcome discomfort is the strength it takes to overcome “The Dip” and beat a system that ensures the average person will fail. Don’t waste time doing something for the wrong reasons because the moment pain sets in, you will surrender.
Don’t Look for a Change, Look for a Challenge
Growing up, kids are taught to do what they love. The problem is that many people interpret “do what you love” as “do what you want.” Many people think the “do what you love” mantra is a millennial mindset, but it’s actually a societal mindset. A news reporter quits their job to become a graphic designer. The reporter was bored and had fun drawing on the weekends, so while looking for a new job, someone told the reporter they would love graphic design. The problem is that the reporter, instead of improving their career by making adjustments to become a better reporter, decided to make a radical change. This change did not help them improve or find a job that made them happy. It will lead to an average reporter learning to become an average graphic designer. Instead, the reporter should find new challenges in their current successful position as a reporter. If the reporter can’t find opportunities at their current station, they should move to a new station so they can rebrand themselves and find new challenges and opportunities.
Personal growth and fulfillment stems from committing to the following three principles. First, fight through “dips” to find success and purpose. Secondly, realize when it is time to make changes or pursue new challenges to adjust goals. And finally, understand when it is time to quit and start fresh. This kind of personal growth leads to professional development that creates stronger leaders and innovators.