I just finished The Dip by Seth Godin. It’s a quick read (80 pages), and the point is the following: things worth doing are worth doing well, but they’re also really hard. Focus on the things that you can be great at (quit the things you can’t), and pay your dues (“the hard part”).
Revolutionary? No. But the book shows up on best seller lists (USA Today, NYT, WSJ). It shows up on top business book lists. It was published in 2007, and still appears in the top 100 lists in a few Amazon sub-categories.
Why is this book so popular? I’m sure Seth has made a good chunk of change selling advice that was pretty obvious. In fact, most of the books you read in the (broadly defined) “self-help” genre just recycle old ideas (seriously — go read the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament). That’s ok — the ideas are new to someone, and everyone learns differently. But it’s not like “choose your battles” is new advice.
There’s a great quote (Tony Robbins I think?) that has been haunting me. Paraphrasing:
Lots of people know the right things to do. Not very many people do them.
If so many people know the right things to do, why don’t they do them? How many times have I made a poor decision (or, worse, made NO decision) on the spot, and later admitted to myself that I made exactly the wrong decisions for completely obvious reasons? This is generally accompanied with “Well, I know I should do X , but…”. I don’t think I’m alone in this 🙂
Let’s dissect it — if I know the right move but don’t act, why didn’t I act?
- Something else was more important.
- I didn’t think.
- I didn’t care.
Of these three responses, “Something else was more important” is the only correct response. “I didn’t think” can be solved with experience. All other excuses fall under “I didn’t care”.
That is, and should be, uncomfortable.
When I find myself stepping in obvious holes, making dumb decisions, completely whiffing on pitches over the plate, I go through the questions above: Was something else more important? Was this the first time you’ve been in this situation? Do you even care?
The good news is, you (I) already know how to get better. The challenge is to actually care. Pick a reason (“It’s interesting”, “I’m supporting my family”, “It’ll move the needle”). Pick a project. And put your heart into it. This makes “getting through the dip” (as Seth would say) a whole lot easier.