I listened to a podcast this week called What You Will Learn where the hosts were discussing Seth Godin’s book, The Dip. The Dip is a figurative location that describes a low point in your personal or professional life where you either give up or keep going.
For any worthwhile endeavor, arriving at the dip is inevitable. The typical cycle begins with a strong start in the beginning, then you struggle for a while, then you either quit during the struggle or you keep pushing until you’ve reached your goal. Godin suggests that sometimes it’s beneficial to quit things that are a dead end or will lead you to personal or professional ruin.
One interesting observation from the podcast was how the concept of “the dip” applies in the business world. Because of heightened competition, there tends to be an increasing smaller group of businesses that do really, really well, and everyone else is just average. One reason for this is we no longer live in a society where access to the best products or services is constrained by where we live or who we know. As a result, companies that consistently deliver better products and provide top-tier service tend to do better, and average companies just survive or maybe even go out of business. This phenomenon is often called the Matthew Effect. The Matthew Effect is a reference to a parable in the Bible that states to he who has, more will be given. And to he who has not, what little he has will be taken away. I just bought a book about the Matthew Effect and plan to write a blog post about it when I finish it in the next few weeks.
From a graphical perspective, companies with a majority share of a market are represented on the left side of the curve, and everyone else resides in the tail. The argument these podcasters make is that competing in the tail is harder because there are more competitors and less market to share. They further argue that it doesn’t make sense to compete in today’s society unless you’re trying to be the best. Peter Thiel is famous for saying “competition is for losers,” suggesting that the best way to succeed is to create something new and differentiated such that you can dominate a new market with no outside competition. I don’t agree wholeheartedly with Peter’s idea of how to succeed in business, but basically he’s saying that it’s better to be in the dominant position in a market than not to be.
The concept of “The Dip” applies to all of us and it’s something we should embrace. The long-term benefits of not quitting and pushing through challenges help to shape your character and makes you a more disciplined person. On the opposite side, having the courage to quit things that are neither beneficial nor useful, can be life-changing as well. In the end, you have to do what’s best for you, but you should never be afraid to keep pushing forward through the struggle and you should never be afraid to quit something that you know you should stop doing. You have one life – live it!
Cheers – KM