“Never give up” is an advice we hear far too often. We’re taught that giving up is a failure. But nothing could be further from the truth if we’re caught in a dead end. If there is nothing left to reach, why should we bother to go on? It’s a waste of time and energy trying to move mountains. Better give up and go for something worthwhile. It’s the only reasonable thing to do. Not giving up is a problem. Wasting your energy where nothing can be gained is a bad decision. Giving up and focusing your power to reach worthwhile goals is the smarter strategy.
But even if we go for a big, valuable goal, we might reach a point where it looks like we should quit. Everything looks bright and easy at the start. But sooner or later we realize how difficult the way to our goal really is. We might lose all our hope or even panic as we think we cannot make it. But as Seth Godin says in his little book “The Dip,” it is never a good idea to quit something because you panic. Difficulties on the way to achieve something great are natural and even necessary. Only those difficulties create the scarcity, which makes the goal worthwhile in the end. If it wouldn’t be hard to reach, everyone would do it and there would be no value in it anymore.
So, quit everything where nothing can be gained and be prepared for “the dip” when you are heading out to do something great. Don’t panic if things get rough and ugly. You might have to change your tactics if they don’t lead anywhere, but never stop striving to attain the big goal.
4 thoughts on “Giving up – or not?”
Obviously, Matthias, the big question is how can you distinguish between failure and a “dip”? Other than in hindsight.
Yes, that’s the big question. I guess, only your gutt feel can tell you: Do you still fully believe in what you are doing? Is it still worth pursuing, even though its tougher than expected? If you can answer both questions with YES, then it might be a dip, otherwise a dead end.
I’m dealing with a project now where the problem is motivational–it’s hard to figure out what the project is for or who is supposed to benefit. That seems to be a hard line separating failure from a simple dip. You can’t succeed by working harder or faster or more cleverly when the very concept of success is unknowable!
Mark, such projects are some of the worst. Sounds like a dead end to me if it is not possible to define the goal more clearly. What are the obstacles to find out more about the goal? If there is no worthwhile goal, quitting would be the better option (this is so much easier to say than to do, I know…)