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Spring 2008 · Vol. 37 No. 1 · pp. 153–54 

Book Review

The Dip—A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit and When to Stick

Seth Godin. New York, NY: Portfolio, published by Penguin Group, 2007. 80 pages.

Reviewed by Janita Rawls

For those people seeking to do their best in everything they do, the workplace experience can become wearying: more tasks than we can possibly manage, not enough time to reflect, and decisions made on the spur of the moment. We occasionally find ourselves wanting to check out, to quit. Seth Godin’s insights are helpful when he discusses the topic of quitting. He observes, “Believe it or not, quitting is often a great strategy, a smart way to manage your life and your career. Sometimes, though, quitting is exactly the wrong thing to do” (5). Godin initially takes the reader through his theme by defining and illustrating why one should quit and later encourages readers to understand when to quit.

One of Godin’s key assumptions is that the reader desires to “be the best.” He gives two reasons why being the best is important. First, “With limited time or opportunity to experiment, we intentionally narrow our choices to those at the top” (9). Second, “Scarcity makes being at the top worth something” (10). He qualifies his term “best” through definition, “Best as in: best for them right now, based on what they believe and what they know. And in the world as in: their world, the world they have access to” (10). Without a reader internalizing the need to be the best, the book becomes meaningless. Godin does well in challenging readers to decide whether they are committed to being the best.

Godin defines “the dip” as, “The long slog between starting and mastery. A long slog that’s actually a shortcut, because it gets you where you want to go faster than any other path. The Dip is the combination of bureaucracy and busywork you must deal with” (17). We have all experienced “the dip” at work or at home, and it has discouraged everyone at some point in life. We have felt like quitting when we are in this dip. The most important point the author makes is that we need to recognize that this dip occurs and we must work through it, because it is at this point that success happens. We must remain cognizant of the difficulty of getting to the other side by embracing the challenge of the dip (24). Godin therefore encourages readers, “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. The next time you catch yourself being average when you feel like quitting, realize that you have only two good choices: Quit and be exceptional. Average is for losers” (44). He goes on to state that one’s reputation is “too valuable to squander on just being average” (44).

Godin discusses the strategic nature of quitting. It is important to quit the right things. This leads readers to inquire, how does one know when one is in a dip and not just in a meaningless venture? Fortunately, Godin provides guidance: you are in a dead end task when you work and work and nothing really changes (19). He advises that it is important to remove yourself from this situation as quickly as you can and refocus your resources (20). He challenges the reader to ask three questions before quitting. These are: 1) Is one panicking in a difficult situation? 2) Is one’s sphere of influence realistic? And, 3) Is one making forward progress in a task (66-69). Furthermore, Godin addresses the judgments we make about quitting. We have been taught that quitting is giving up and connotes failure. He challenges readers to think about using quitting as an important strategy.

The Dip is an easy-to-read text presenting information and examples from a story perspective. The book will appeal to numerous audiences and for multiple reasons, including those who want to improve their executive ability, leadership and management skills, and organizational effectiveness. It gives significant information and advice on how to improve one’s life.

Janita Rawls
Dean, School of Business
Fresno Pacific University, Fresno, California

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