Sep. 20, 2012
You’ve probably heard your entire life to not quit, keep pushing through and you’ll eventually accomplish your “A” game.
But what if you don’t ever get there? You have tenacity, so you should keep on pushing — right?
Marketing guru Seth Godin says “No,” because if you’re not going to be the absolute best at something then you might as well put a halt on your career track and quit.
In the book “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When To Quit (And When To Stick),” Godin writes:
” ‘Never Quit.’ What a spectacularly bad piece of advice. I think the advice giver meant to say ‘Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment’. Now that’s good advice.”
Because it’s not going to benefit you to be “average” at something — the difference in profit is too great between those who are the best compared to those who are average. And that might be the hardest part to becoming successful — admitting that you’re just average at what you’re doing and will never become the best at it. Because becoming a “superstar” is “the only choice,” Godin writes on his blog.
If you don’t have the vision to realize that you’re mediocre then you’ll end up spending valuable time and energy on a project that’s in a “cul-de-sac” or hanging off a “cliff,” which Godin defines as work where you put a lot of effort in, but doesn’t actually get you anywhere (or in this case, to the top).
Godin calls this decision “The Dip” — the point where you decide to quit or not to quit. So how do you make this decision? Guy Kawasaki asks Godin this exact question on his blog. Here’s Godin’s response:
“It’s time to quit when you secretly realize you’ve been settling for mediocrity all along. It’s time to quit when the things you’re measuring aren’t improving, and you can’t find anything better to measure.”
“Smart quitters understand the idea of opportunity cost. The work you’re doing on project X right now is keeping you from pushing through the Dip on project Y. If you fire your worst clients, if you quit your deadest tactics, if you stop working with the people who return the least, then you free up an astounding number of resources. Direct those resources at a Dip worth conquering and your odds of success go way up.”
“What’s the worst time to quit? When the pain is the greatest. Decisions made during great pain are rarely good decisions.”
This advice is for individual players. What about corporations who are deciding which employees they should hold on to? Because the more “average” employees you hire, the less seats there are available for the A-team — right?
A former presentation on Netflix’s culture revealed that the company’s policy was to fire employees who were only doing an “adequate” job, because these “B” players needed to be eliminated to make room for more “A” players. Or can B players eventually learn to become A players? According to Godin, it all depends on if they’ve reached “The Dip.” Once they’re there, a decision needs to be made.
Not everyone is going to be the absolute best at everything they do, but no need to worry — Godin says his advice isn’t for all of your interests. It’s only for projects related to “investment and effort, in doing things not just for the pleasure of doing them but because you expect something in return.”