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When To Grit Vs. When To Quit

“We’re fooling ourselves thinking that sticking it out is the way to get ahead.” – Seth Godin

According to business author Seth Godin, “We’re fooling ourselves thinking that sticking it out is the way to get ahead.”

Many of us are familiar with the saying “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” But according to business writer Seth Godin, author of the bestselling book “The Dip: A Little Book That Tells You When To Quit (And When To Stick)”, winners DO quit and quitters DO win. “Winners quit all the time,” he writes. “They just quit the right stuff at the right time.”

The Dip and The Cul-de-Sac

“Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun,” Seth writes. “Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point–really hard, and not much fun at all. And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle.”

For Seth, this low point can be one of two things:

  • The “Dip,” the point where something you’ve started is no longer fun, becomes difficult, and most people give up.
  • A “Cul-de-Sac,” a dead end, where you try and try or work and work and nothing happens.

According to Seth, what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is their ability to tell the two apart. Winners see the Dip as a barrier, a temporary setback that will get better if they keep pushing. If they are able to overcome it, they will come out more exceptional than when they started out. 

He cites a well-reported study which found that salespersons usually give up and move on after the fifth contact with the prospect because they think they are wasting their time and the prospect’s. Five times is the Dip. But according to the study, 80 percent of customers buy on the seventh attempt to close the sale! If the salesperson had stuck it out and pushed on, he or she would have found success.

On  the other hand, those who recognize that they are in a Cul-de-Sac and have the guts to quit early have the benefit of freeing up time and space to reinvest their energies on something more worthwhile. 

“In both cases, it’s about being the best in the world. About getting through the hard stuff and coming out on the other side,” states Seth. 


On the other hand, Seth states that losers fall into two basic traps. “Either they fail to stick out the Dip–they get to the moment of truth and give up–or they never even find the right Dip to conquer,” he writes.

Seth advises that people need to figure out first if they are in a Dip that is worthy of their time, effort, and talents. “If you are, the dip will inspire you to hang tough. If not, it will help you find the courage to quit, so you can be number one at something else.”

So how do you know if you’re in Dip or a Cul-de-Sac? Seth offers the following suggestions in an interview with author Josh Kaufman. Read Here

When to grit and when to quit

1. Find your why. “If you are showing up at work or training everyday just because you showed up yesterday, or if you are showing up because you believe that showing up is the only way to support your family, then you’re making a mistake.”

2. Ask yourself — “‘Is there a dip on the horizon? Can you see it coming?’ ‘Have other people you’ve worked with found that spot?’ If yes, you have to stick it out because your turn will come.”

3. Lastly, is the task getting more difficult? “If all you’re measuring is that you didn’t get fired, or your job reviews are better than average, and the company is not going not going out of business, that’s probably a dead end right there. There’s no dip coming, there’s no breakthrough, there’s no chance you’re going to be able to embrace the dip, push through it, and come out the other end exceptional.”

And if you’ve found yourself in an honest-to-goodness Cul-de-Sac, Seth advocates quitting. “Strategic quitting is a conscious decision you make based on the choices that are available to you. If you realize you’re at a dead end compared with what you could be investing in, quitting is not only a reasonable choice, it’s a smart one. Quitting is better than coping because quitting frees you up to excel at something else.”

To know if we are quitting strategically and NOT just reactively, Seth advises that we first ask ourselves three questions before making the decision: 

  1. Am I panicking? Quitting is a critical decision, so doing it when you’re panicked is dangerous and expensive. “When the pressure is greatest to compromise, to drop out, or to settle, your desire to quit should be at its lowest,” he shares. “The best quitters, as we’ve seen, are the ones who decide in advance when they’re going to quit. You can always quit later—so wait until you’re done panicking to decide.”
  2. Who am I trying to influence? “If you have a well defined person you’re trying to influence and they’re not listening, it may be time to quit. But when it’s a whole market, there are plenty of other people you could try to influence. Influencing a market is a hill you have to climb,” he states.
  3. What sort of measurable progress am I making? If you’re trying to succeed in a job or a relationship or at a task, you’re either moving forward, falling behind, or standing still. There are only three choices. “To succeed, to get to that light at the end of the tunnel, you’ve got to make some sort of forward progress, no matter how small. Too often, we get stuck in a situation where quitting seems too painful, so we just stay with it, choosing not to quit because it’s easier than quitting. That choice—to stick with it in the absence of forward progress—is a waste. It’s a waste because of the opportunity cost,” Seth points out. He adds: :”Measurable progress doesn’t have to be a raise or a promotion. It can be more subtle than that, but it needs to be more than just ‘surviving is succeeding.’” 

Finally, Seth cautions in his interview with Josh that encountering a Cul-de-Sac does not mean you have to quit RIGHT NOW. If you really need the income, don’t leave your job just yet, but do ACT like you’ve quit. “Live as if you have no income,” he advises. “Shop less. Don’t buy fancy coffee. Do it radically and completely until you’ve saved enough money to be able to really quit, to survive the transition, and get through the Dip.”

“To be a superstar, you must do something exceptional. Not just survive the Dip, but use the Dip as an opportunity to create something so extraordinary that people can’t help but talk about it, recommend it, and, yes, choose it.”

MindNation’s WellBeing Coaches can help if you are feeling “stuck” and need help achieving your goals. Book an online session with them now on FB Messenger http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

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