Matt Franz : Zealous For Knowledge

The Dip

Seth Godin is one of the few bloggers I read everyday. His insights are sharp, timely, and, most importantly, concise.

His books are no different. You can easily finish The Dip in one sitting. Below are the big ideas I took away from it.

1. Be the best in the world.

Everybody wants to work with the best in the world or own the best product in the world. There’s huge demand. But only one person or product can occupy this space at once. This scarcity is the secret to its value. The best in the world will earn many multiples of the average. The earnings distribution is exponential, not linear.

2. The dip is the long slog between beginning and mastery.

To be the best in the world you must achieve mastery. Mastery does not come without practice, dedication, discipline, or sacrifice. These characterize the dip. The dip weeds out aspiring masters and creates scarcity. This is what organic chemistry does for pre-med students and BUD/S does for Navy Seals.

3. Be a strategic, not a serial, quitter.

You cannot be the best in the world at everything. It’s important to carefully select what you want to be the best at and focus all of your efforts there. This means quitting almost everything else.

Warren Buffett gives this same advice. Buffett asked his pilot, Mike, what his goals were. The pilot came up with a list of 25 things. Then Buffett asked him to circle the five most important to him.

Buffett asked him about the 20 items he didn’t circle. The pilot said, “Well the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in at a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit as I’m getting through my top 5. They aren’t as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”

To which Buffett said: “No. You’ve got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn’t circle just became your ‘avoid at all cost list’. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you’ve succeeded with your top 5.”

Godin says:

Most people will quit in the dip. The level of skill they achieve is, by definition, average. Average skills receive average compensation.

4. Lean into the dip.

The opposite of quitting is not persevering, it’s re-dedicating. To get through the dip you must lean into the dip. Embrace the struggle.

People quit in the dip because of short-term pain. Masters that get through the dip keep a long-term perspective in these moments. They visualize the light at the end of the tunnel. No one quits a marathon at mile 25.

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