I was recently listening to a Seth Godin episode called “Ignore the Sunk Costs” from his Akimbo podcast. In the middle of it he talks about The Dip. It is a tricky segment of life where we have the choice of quitting or sticking it out. In fact he wrote an entire book on the subject (another book I get to consume).
The premise is this. Quitting is sometimes good. Quitting is sometimes bad. That is what makes quitting a difficult decision. It is emotional. There is investment. There is sunk costs that hold us back from quitting something we’ve poured our lives into.
One point he makes is that the best organizations are great quitters. They know the things they need to lay down in order to embrace the things that will make them profitable. He mentions GE spinning off its home appliance division in order to pursue other ventures.
Another point is that sometimes you are in the dip, and you need to NOT QUIT. You need to push through to the other side because you are close to breakthrough. I haven’t read the book yet, but I believe that is the premise of “Don’t Quit in the Dip.”
Here is the deal: It isn’t black and white. It is messy. What we need to do is acknowledge and accept that it’s messy and consider our emotions. Emotions are why we are such crappy decision-makers. In his book “Thinking Fast and Slow,” Kahneman explained thoroughly that the economics of decision-making (black and white) get’s overshadowed all the time by the emotions of decision-making (very very grey).
It would behoove us to take this into account. No, sticking it out and persevering is NOT always the best answer (read “Necessary Endings“). And at the same time, we too often quite right before the breakthrough.
The answer to this conundrum is complex. All of the books mentioned help us navigate the maze of decisions with helpful tools. The first step, however, is to recognize the complexity of the dip, embrace it, and not make a knee-jerk decision.