The Dip (2007) is about the common struggle we all face when we undertake an ambitious project or embark on a new career. As author Seth Godin points out, we can greatly increase our chances of success by preparing for the inevitable dip into difficult and trying times. By making tough choices, avoiding distractions and setting priorities, you can be well-equipped to persevere and come out stronger than you were before.
Let’s say you want to master figure skating. Learning how to gracefully glide across the ice, and even skate backward, can happen pretty quickly. But learning how to land a perfect quadruple jump will take a great deal of time and strenuous effort before you can perfect it. This is the time when you’re struggling – deep in the Dip.
The same experience can happen when you’re bringing a new business to life. At first it’ll be smooth sailing as you fall in love with your exciting and innovative ideas. But then there’s the inevitable mountains of paperwork to overcome and figuring out how to solve the many problems that will arise during the early stages. Chances are, it’ll be years before the Dip is over and you’re comfortably running a successful business.
Sometimes the Dip can be purposefully built-in to a process as a way of finding out who the most dedicated and hardworking people are.
Imagine you’re a student in the US, thinking of going to medical school. One of your mandatory classes in the first year will be Organic Chemistry – a fiendishly difficult subject that will eat up a great deal of your study time. While Organic Chemistry isn’t the most important class in the curriculum, it creates a Dip that causes many students to throw in the towel early on.
A lot of people entertain the idea of becoming a doctor, so creating a Dip early on is an easy way for universities to reduce the class size to only the most dedicated students.
A similar strategy is used in the hiring processes of companies around the world. In order to whittle down the applicant pool to only the best talents, many job applications require an excessive amount of documentation and include multiple rounds of stressful interviews.
The good news is, by recognizing these Dips for what they are, you can find comfort in the knowledge that they’re supposed to be difficult and that it will get easier if you just stick with it.