Seth Godin, The Dip – Book Review, Thoughts

Ariel views of people by large pool in beach chairs

The Dip is a short book by Seth Godin, where he talks about the struggle that takes place after starting a new endeavor – a career, business, entreprenurial venture, hobby. The struggle is The Dip that happens after the start of our venture, and continues before the J curve starts going up, and we really reap the rewards of what we’ve started.

The other side of the dip is where things are fun and easy

One thing Seth says in this book is that competitors try and make the dip as long and harsh as possible for their competitors. The harder it is to get through the dip, the easier it is for the select few who can get through it. It reminds me of the goal that people often have with career, or with school – we often justify a period of intense work in our lives – several years or more – to gain something magnificent at the end, and to make life easier and more fun for us.

We want to make life easier for ourselves, and we don’t want to quit something because it seems too hard. But isn’t that obvious? If the rewards at the end are apparent, why would we quit? Maybe it’s like Anthony De Mello says in Awareness – we can “know” something, but to be aware of it is something different entirely. If we have a goal, and we are not committed to it entirely, why should we even be pursuing it in the first place? The only reason could be that we don’t have anything better to do. Maybe in that case, the better thing to do would be to make our priority to find something that we can go All In on. That is the real goal in life, I think. To find something that is worth throwing yourself into the fire for. I feel that I am still on that quest. But maybe that thing can be in the field of computers. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something totally different. Like I was talking to my sister about, there are many different lanes you can go to in a field.

I think writing about my thoughts like this is a very helpful way to see what things are worth pursuing. Even just writing a blog about the thoughts I have in my head makes me feel like there’s a legit outlet for me to talk about where I want to go in life. It’s really hard to figure these things out, and think these thoughts, without writing them down, or talking about them on camera. At least those are a couple ways that I know really work for me.

Lean into the Dip

Seth says that we want to be able to recognize the Dip, so that we can lean into it, instead of shying away from it. This is a good thing, because we are able to see that when things begin to get hard, it’s time to keep going. This will give us the confidence and motivation to continue through, when most people are most likely to quit.

Sometimes quitting is a good thing

Seth doesn’t say never quit. In fact, the whole of the book is kindof a mind fuck because Seth will say that quitting is very important, and also that quitting is wrong. It just depends on the context. If someone quits because something is hard, and they want to look for an easier market, this may be the wrong time to quit, because in every field there is a period of struggle that we need to go through to excel on the other end.

The Dip is the reason that good things exist

Seth talks about how the Dip is what causes there to be positions that are excellent to hold. Without there being a Dip, it would be easy for everyone to get to the other side. What is the difference, then, between saying that there is a Dip, and saying that we just need to work hard to achieve our goals? Seth remarks on how it’s fun and new and novel to undertake something new. When we embark on a new hobby, or career, the going is fun. It’s exciting. We can even feel a “passion” for it, in the form of feelings of novelty and excitement. However these often wear off after not too long, and we are left in an arena that doesn’t seem as rosy as we thought at first .

Coding was a good example of a Dip for me. It feels almost like there were several dips. First it was fun just starting off on FreeCodeCamp and learning the basics. Then things got harder and harder, and there definitely was difficulty persisting. I don’t know if I would have done it if I hadn’t had Brittany to support me through it, and to encourage me to keep going. She was like the opposite of my father, who would tell me why everything I wanted to do in life was a bad idea. It felt like no matter what my major was, he had something negative to say about it. It feels like that wasn’t helpful when it came to my resolve of sticking to things.

Examples of the Dip in my life

Learning to do coding is an example of getting through one dip. And I almost didn’t make it through this dip either. In the first half of my twenties I was doing many different majors. It was one at a time, but I was never able to set my focus to one, and perservere in it. It wasn’t because I couldn’t take the pain of going through the major, it was just because I felt like it was a waste of time going down this path, because I didn’t really feel that firey passion for it. The passion that I was hoping to be able to find in something.

I remember trying to find this passion as a wildlife biologist. Even when I think of it now, it sounds very rosy. Being outdoors so much, being able to study plants and animals, learning about nature – but mostly just being outdoors all the time. I was scared away because I had heard the pay and competition were too much. Possibly the wrong reasons to not go for a job, but really not having money from working is kind of a big deal. If it was something that I wanted to do so badly that the money wouldn’t have mattered, I probably would have kept going with it, but I figured that I should try something else first. I figured there was another field (engineering) where I could enjoy the job also (maybe not as much) but it would pay alot better and give me freedom in other areas that way.

I ended up quitting engineering too because the stretch was just too long. That was another “Dip”. First there was a dip in Sweden, continuing another 3 years to finish college. I thought I was not enjoying Sweden because it was cold, dark, and people were not too social. I don’t know if these were legitimate reasons, but they might have been. After all, here I am now in New Orleans, living in a similar situation as I was in Sweden, and now I don’t feel depressed (although I do sometimes). It’s actually is a similar feeling to what it was, living in Sweden. Except for that last semester. That last semester in Sweden had me thinking that it would be better to get out now and go work on something else.

Anyway – was programming a good example of me going through the dip? I almost quit doing programming and started doing business school as well. It was a tough choice. I wanted to finish my degree, and my dad was pestering me to go back to school and finish it. It was going to interrupt my plans to continue with getting a job in coding. I figured that I could do both of them at once – study coding and finish my business degree at the same time. However I ended up making the decision that this was a bad idea, and that I should quit doing business, and continue focusing on programming. I talked with my girlfriend Brittany and she helped me to realize that going off the track again to pursue something else was a bad idea. I had made a vow to myself earlier that I would get a job as a programmer, before I decided to change to something else.

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