Lean into The Dip

Posted on November 28, 2011


You CAN’T have it all. Winners ALWAYS quit.

Seems counter-intuitive, but Seth Godin builds a compelling case for these sentiments in his book, The Dip.

Seth argues that quitting is not bad. Successful people quit all the time. They just quit the right things at the right time.

Because anything worth achieving has its price.

You can’t be CEO, unless you’re willing to put in decades of hard work in increasingly demanding jobs. You can’t be the world’s best soccer player, unless you invest countless hours (and dollars) into competitive leagues and coaching.

To earn the top spot in anything, you’ll have to work your way through a tough period — also known as The Dip. You’ll likely need to quit everything else to make it through.

Most people balance too many priorities, which is why The Dip stops so many. If their attention is divided, they won’t get to the other side of The Dip.

But, The Dip is an opportunity for those wise enough to choose the right challenge. Leaning into The Dip can bring great rewards.

This little 80-page book is full of sound bites. It doesn’t really provide answers, but it gives us good food for thought. Here’s my top 4 quotes for nonprofits:

1. “Quit or be exceptional. Average is for losers…Average feels safe, but it’s invisible.”
Harsh, but probably true. People inherently want the best, including donors. Time and money are precious, and donors will only give to the best (“for them, right now, based on what they believe”) in the world (“their world, the one they have access to”). Based on Seth’s definitions, the term ‘best in the world’ means one thing to a university hospital, and something else entirely to the grassroots environmental group.

2. “There are people and organizations that can help you later but only if you invest the time and effort to work with them now…”
So true. It applies to donors, employees, volunteers, clients, partnering agencies, neighbors, prospects…pretty much everyone.

3. “While one nonprofit runs from grant maker to grant maker seeking funds for this project or that one, a successful nonprofit sticks with a consistent theme, showing up, paying its dues, focusing on just a few foundations until the money comes through.”
I agree that focusing on just a few foundations is a better strategy than a scattered approach. But I don’t think just showing up and paying dues is enough, either. It’s not an endurance contest; Every grant should meet the mission of both organizations.

4. “You’re astonishing. How dare you waste it. You and your organization have the power to change everything.”
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t weaken your nonprofit’s mission with too many priorities. Instead, quit the mediocre and redirect your hard-earned resources into being exceptional.

Have you read The Dip? What did you think?

Posted in: Book review